From the Puyallup Herald:

When an estimated 200,000 visitors come to the region the week of June
15-17 2015, the economic impact is estimated to be $144 million,
according to a United States Golf Association report.

It’s odd that an organization  whose purpose it is to promote golf would say a golf tournament is a net benefit, right?

The US Open golf tournament on the Puget Sound is just less than a year away, and I noticed a little rash of economic benefit coverage for the event. Big bucks coming our way because of golfers, golf fans and media.

But, how large will the economic benefit of the golf tournament really be?

There seems to be a cottage industry of promoters and detractors along this argument. From promoters of stadiums, to the Olympics and the World Cup, there are arguments for and against. Oddly, promoters and sponsors tend to find benefits and more hard hearted economists tend to find costs.

Taking at least a look at large tournaments like the Olympics, you’d be hard pressed to find benefits in the modern era. But, it is hard to compare the Olympics to (even a major) golf tournament:

(A golf tournament) typically requires little new
construction—the golf course is already there, and no golf tournament
attracts Olympic-sized crowds, so it probably does not require new
hotels. Also, while some people will no doubt reschedule visits to
London to coincide with the Olympics, this seems less likely for
Cromwell, Connecticut. It’s a nice place, (named after the Englishman
who had King Charles I’s head cut off), but not a must-see destination.

Where the Chambers Bay U.S. Open will likely be different is that it wasn’t already there. From what I can tell, it was built almost specifically for the 2015 U.S. Open. And, since it was first built, the course has been an economic drain:

Chambers Bay broke even in 2008, fueled by the initial interest of
the course’s opening in June 2007. But it landed in the red each of the
next four years, requiring a loan from the county’s equipment rental and
revolving fund to make debt payments.

The annual deficit peaked in 2010 at $1.8 million, despite
attracting national exposure that year by hosting the U.S. Amateur Golf

But, even $20 million in original construction cost and $2 million a year of operating loss, it would take some time to catch up with the $144 estimated economic benefit. But, not all that benefit would be going to the taxpayers broadly, who payed for the course. It would be going to the businesses (hotels and restaurants) that are set up to benefit from a large tourist event that benefit from the event.

Read more here: