The 2015 U.S. Open will be a big deal for but the community should work to attract a USGA event every year.
That was one of the lessons that two University Place officials gathered after they traveled to San Francisco to watch the 2012 U.S. Open.
Gary Cooper - University Place's director parks, recreation & public works - said he and Public Safety Manager Jennifer Hales were invited to travel with a Pierce County contingent to The Olympic Club.
“It was quite an eye opener, quite impressive,” he told the University Place City Council on Monday night.
Cooper and Hales will be part of the planning team for the 2015 tournament, which is expected to draw thousands of people everyday to the University Place golf course.
Of course, locals have plenty of concerns about traffic, crime and exactly how much UP will benefit directly from the week or so of festivites.
During their visit, Cooper and Hales studied the USGA's facilities, transit plan, parking and other tour components. Here are a few observations that he shared with the City Council:
"The footprint is huge." There were hospitality and merchandise tents the latter being more than an acre in size. It's also expected to bring increased sales tax revenue for the city.
“It’s not our weekend." Although Pierce County and University Place will have their say, the ultimate planning is up to the USGA. It is expected to assign two main planners to the area in October, one more than expected, Cooper said. Pierce County is also forming its planning teams right now. Hales will likely lead the public safety team, while Cooper will serve on transportation.
"The city’s real responsibility is hospitality." Cooper encouraged officials and the community to be hospitable hosts. The reason? The U.S. Open, while big, isn't the only event the USGA could bring to Chambers Bay. "We need to remember they run 14 golf events each year," he said. "That's important because while we shoot for one event every seven or nine years, what about those other 13 events they have every year?"
"A few twisted ankles." The terrain at The Olympic Club is fairly hilly, which resulted in a few foot injuries among spectators, Cooper said. Other than that, there were no major medical emergencies or trends.
"These events aren't set up for you to drive." Cooper lauded the transportation plan of the USGA in San Francisco, which involved busing thousands of people from off-site lots, including Candlestick Park and its 9,700 parking stalls. Members of the California Highway Patrol also patrolled neighborhoods.