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updated: 9/4/2012 2:15 PM

Local businesses compete for Ryder Cup tourist dollars

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  • Local businesses are working hard for the Ryder Cup tourist dollar. Here, a memorabilia shop is set up, drawing visitors to Oakbrook Center mall in Oak Brook.

       Local businesses are working hard for the Ryder Cup tourist dollar. Here, a memorabilia shop is set up, drawing visitors to Oakbrook Center mall in Oak Brook.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 

From dining guides to package deals, local businesses are pulling out the stops to attract the hordes of people expected to visit Medinah Country Club for the Ryder Cup Tournament later this month.

Skip Strittmatter, executive director of the DuPage Visitor and Convention Bureau, said the group has worked with the Professional Golf Association, as well as hotels, restaurants, bars and other attractions, for the past four years to ensure DuPage -- and the whole Chicago area -- puts its best foot forward for one of golf's biggest events.

The bureau has created a visitors guide of the area's top attractions and a dining card with deals on food and drinks. It is estimated that the Ryder Cup will generate about $80 million for the DuPage County area and $130 million for the Chicago region, Strittmatter said.

In addition, there will be more media credentials handed out at the Ryder Cup than at the Super Bowl, Strittmatter said.

"Our biggest goal was to get as many people as possible to stay in DuPage County," he said. "This is a chance for the DuPage area to be showcased on the national and international stage. We want people to see it and think about visiting, or living here and moving their business. That's been one of our goals."

About 20,000 nights have been reserved for the week of Friday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 30. Of the more than 25 hotels featured on the PGA's website, about 95 percent of the rooms are in DuPage County, with other hotels situated near Woodfield Mall and downtown Chicago.

Jeff Brown, general manager of Hotel Arista in Naperville, said the event has been a boon for hotels in the Western suburbs. Brown said it is Chicago that has been left to pick up the scraps.

"I feel like Chicago is competing with us because DuPage County is becoming first choice as we're so close to the event," Brown said. "We have had groups from all over the world booking in this market first and then it is bleeding over into Chicago. It's almost the exact opposite of what typically happens."

Brown said if there is a large-scale event in the Chicago-area, downtown hotels are the first to fill up with few bookings reaching the Western suburbs due to the density of hotels around O'Hare International Airport.

"If you put the pin dot on Medinah and draw a 20-mile circumference, that's where people are starting their search even if they're not staying here," Brown said.

That proximity is what chef Patrick McLaughlin said will help local restaurants like Parkers' Restaurant and Bar in Downers Grove compete with options in Chicago.

"I like the fact that we are closer," McLaughlin said. "After a day out at the golf, do people want to go downtown at 10 p.m. and get back to their hotel at 2 a.m. and have to be up early for the golf? You can get the same produce, the same everything here."

Others though, see downtown and the Western suburbs as a partnership.

"We don't like to use the word competing," Strittmatter said. "The Chicago area works together to be the best we can be. There's things we can offer that they can't and there's certainly things they can offer that we can't. We don't look at it as a competitive things. We're just glad we're all working together to make this the best event possible."

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