Exposure will be main benefit from LPGA tournament, Lake County towns say
Golf fans will be drawn to Kemper Lakes in Kildeer this week to watch the top women pros compete in a major championship, but the benefit for adjoining communities may lie more with international exposure than economic impact.
Geography is expected to be a factor for any potential bump in local business from the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. Players, agents, tournament officials, corporate executives, media and others will fill hotels mainly in Lincolnshire and are expected to eat and shop in that area.
Visit Lake County, the official tourism bureau, estimates an economic impact of about $578,000 based on the number of hotel room nights booked by those associated with the tournament.
Local spending by spectators is another matter.
An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 fans will attend the four-day tournament beginning Thursday. However, because of safety concerns, walk-ins are not allowed, and there will be no on-site drop-offs or pickups except for those with proper parking credentials. That means most who attend will be bused from the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake more than 9 miles away.
"Unfortunately, the spectators coming won't be driving through our area," said Dale Perrin, executive director of the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce. The organization represents businesses in Deer Park, Hawthorn Woods, Kildeer, Lake Zurich, Long Grove and North Barrington.
"The lasting residual value is what we're hoping for," he added.
The tournament is a collaboration between KPMG, the PGA of America and the LPGA Tour, which use their own food vendor, for example.
"There's no local restaurant providing food on the course; it's all locked up," Perrin said. "So, unfortunately, it hasn't been as big a boon to our local businesses as we hoped."
Jackie Endsley, championship director, said there have been partnerships with some small local businesses for goods and services. A few local breweries and restaurants will host happy-hour events for 1,200 volunteers off-site after each round, she said.
One is Buffalo Creek Brewing in Long Grove, where owner Mike Marr will host 200 to 250 volunteers and their families the last day of the tournament. Marr, also the chairman of the Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association, said locals expect a bump.
"Even though a lot of people will be shuttled in, a lot of people will be in the area in general," he said. Marr also expects the area will snare customers through searches on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Tournament officials have been provided a listing of local businesses and services. But anyone associated with the event who stops to eat or shop in the immediate area likely will be directed by word-of-mouth, said Michael Talbett, Kildeer's chief village officer.
"We're hoping," said Barb Gescheidle, owner of Smokin' T's Bar-B-Que on Route 22 and Old McHenry Road about a mile from Kemper Lakes. "We're ready. We're adding staff to make sure we can accommodate."
But Kildeer and other towns are banking on name recognition and publicity as the main impact.
"This is a wonderful way for the village of Kildeer and elected officials to showcase our beautiful village," said Village President Nandia Black. "The exposure, I think we'll reap benefits in the future."
Talbett said the tournament is a great opportunity for people to discover Kildeer, whether they're attending or watching on TV.
"Viewers and visitors will see the nice homes and the dining and shopping along the Rand Road commercial corridor, and see how nice it would be to live here," Talbett said.
Lincolnshire stands to gain more concrete benefits.
According to Visit Lake County, 1,770 room nights are booked in six Lincolnshire hotels and one each in Deer Park and Lake Zurich. The bureau, in a recent report to the Lake County Board, said there were 17,258 hotel room nights booked last year.
"This property is sold out frequently, but when you run an event that's seven days long, it's kind of nice," said Julie Berry, director of sales and marketing for the Chicago Marriott Lincolnshire Resort. A $25 million renovation of the 390-room center was completed this year.
"It's great exposure," she said. "It's unique to be part of something as cool as this."
The economic impact of the tournament, including food and beverages, shopping and other spending is estimated at $578,000, said Teresa Lewis of Visit Lake County.
"That's only based on the PGA needs," she said. Determining the overall impact for the tournament is difficult, she added, but local businesses can expect a boost.
"Lincolnshire will do well, so will Vernon Hills and Libertyville. They'll (hotel guests) go right down Milwaukee Avenue."