Naperville, Aurora get boost, too, from Solheim Cup

 
 
Published8/20/2009 12:16 PM

Sugar Grove won't be the only town benefiting from hosting the Solheim Cup.

Naperville and Aurora restaurants and hotels are in line to reap the rewards as thousands of spectators, golfers, staff members, volunteers and media from across the globe flock to the area this weekend.

 

Roughly 30,000 to 40,000 spectators are expected, and golf has the added buzz of being in the running to become an Olympic sport in 2016 when Chicago hopes to host.

"This is a great precursor to showing the hospitality of the region to others," said Christine Jeffries, president of the Naperville Development Partnership.

The two towns have spent more than four years preparing for the event.

The Naperville partnership, a nonprofit group that includes the Naperville Convention and Visitors Bureau and Dining Naperville restaurant marketing group, is an official exhibitor at the Solheim Cup.

Aurora, Sugar Grove, their visitors bureaus and chambers of commerce made a collective $90,000 investment to be sponsors of the event.

At the cities' booths throughout the weekend, visitors will be able to get the latest tourist information from each town. Because cell phones are not allowed at the golf course, the staff manning the booths will also assist them with making dinner reservations at local restaurants.

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"Naperville's choice of restaurants is a huge hit. ... We're already hearing what they liked and want to try next, so we're helping move them around the city to all the dining establishments we have," Jeffries said.

Naperville also plans to have representatives of Naper Settlement, the Downtown Naperville Alliance and Naperville Park District take turns at the booth showcasing what they have to offer.

Sue Vos, president and CEO of the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she and Jeffries will develop a formula after the event to find out how much the average person spent per day in the area.

But in the meantime, she estimates it could be as much as $280 per day per person for expenses, including lodging, food, shopping, entertainment, gas.

Thousands of hotel rooms around the area have been booked for the event.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As the largest hotel in the area, the Holiday Inn Select in Naperville was chosen as the host hotel for LPGA staff, players' families and friends, and a group from Ireland that will be hosting the tournament in two years.

Hotel General Manager Dennis Igoe said his 426 rooms are sold out through Sunday, and the hotel is providing shuttle service to downtown Naperville.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Naperville," he said. "The economic impact is pretty significant for this hotel as well as hotels ... and restaurants in Naperville."

Vos also says she hopes to see benefits beyond just the current event.

The cities are also courting such sporting events as AAU golf and girls basketball, USA Shooting, Chicago 2016, National Cheer Stars and Innovations Consulting - all of whom will be in town this weekend.

"If our organization brings in one sporting event as a result of this, it more than pays for what our investment has been," Vos said. "This is a true opportunity for our backyard to shine, and there's certainly enough media around to make that happen."

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