The Waste Management Phoenix Open, which generated an estimated economic impact of nearly $390 million this year amid an attendance record, is planning new spectator improvements as construction for the 2018 tournament begins this week.
The biggest change involves the 17th hole, where a feature called the Cove will debut.
This spectator area will have 26 to 30 sky boxes, two lounge/bar areas and a play area with ping pong and other games, said Ryan Woodcock, director of communications for the golf tournament, in an email.
The 17th hole also has the Bay Club, which will add 16 luxury suites for the 2018 tournament, bringing the total to 50.
With more fixed seating and the planned games area at 17, that could make the hole more like the 16th, a par 3 that’s enclosed in a stadium setting of intense fan cheering and jeering. The intent is to create a more fun atmosphere at 17 and divert some fans from the crowded 16th, Woodcock said.
Adjacent to the Cove will be a new section of general admission bleacher seating for 700 fans on the par-4 hole. Also, tournament organizers are increasing the size of El Rancho, a Mexican restaurant near the 12th and 13th holes.
Another new policy involves cellphones. Prior restrictions are lifting so that fans can use phones every day of tournament week, including taking photos and video.
The 2018 tournament at TPC Scottsdale will run from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4. Construction for the event, including the erection of bleacher and sky box scaffolding, start this week.
The Phoenix Open this year set single-day attendance records for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, in addition to an overall tournament record of 655,434 spectators. That broke the previous record of 618,365, set in 2016.
This year’s tournament pumped an estimated $389.3 million into Arizona’s economy, according to a study by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and commissioned by the Thunderbirds, a civic group that hosts the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
The study estimated the impact increased from $222 million five years earlier.
According to the latest study, an estimated 99,887 out-of-town visitors attended the tournament this year, accounting for 15 percent of all spectators. These nonresidents spent an estimated average of $393 per person, or $140 million total, and stayed 3.6 nights.
The spending total also included an estimated $63.1 million by the Thunderbirds, the PGA Tour and other groups associated with the tournament. These outlays went toward equipment, food and beverages, signs, security, hotel rooms for players and other items. The Thunderbirds raised a record $10.1 million for charity this year.
The tournament resulted in direct sales-tax revenue of $4.1 million for Scottsdale, $1.3 million for Maricopa County and $7.6 million for Arizona, according to the ASU report.
More information on the tournament can be seen at www.wmphoenixopen.com.
Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8616.
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