- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hotels are booked. A restaurant braces for an influx of customers and orders more fish. Additional police, fire and rescue squad members have been mobilized. Local officials prepare to schmooze.

Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus aren’t the only reasons Prince William County officials are happy to host the PGA Tour’s Presidents Cup golf tournament this week.

Along with the professionals, the tournament is expected to draw up to 20,000 people per day — providing the county not only with additional tax revenue, but also with an opportunity to woo businesses into relocating their headquarters or regional offices to the area.

“The Presidents Cup is an international event,” said Jason Grant, communications manager for the Prince William County Department of Economic Development. “It gives an opportunity for us to network and do marketing.”

This will be the fourth time that the Presidents Cup, held every two years, has taken place at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club on Lake Manassas. The club also hosted the tournament in 1994, 1996 and 2000. In 1998, the tournament moved to Melbourne, Australia, and in 2003 it was hosted in George, South Africa. PGA Tour officials postponed the 2002 tournament in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

An opening ceremony today begins the tournament, which runs through Sunday.

“It’s a great venue, it’s a beautiful course — a beautiful location,” Mr. Grant said. “Businesses looking at Prince William County want to be here.”

In addition to setting up a corporate hospitality tent at the site, the county invited to the tournament business owners who they hope will consider relocating to the area.

“This tournament provides two opportunities for us,” said Liz Bahrns, communications director for the county. “One is just to promote Prince William County and its amenities. The other is we use this as a big economic-development marketing opportunity.”

The county, which is the second-largest in Virginia and one of the fastest-growing in the nation, spent $250,000 on tournament advertising as well as additional resources in manpower, Mrs. Bahrns said.

An estimated $35 million to $40 million in additional revenue was generated in 2000, the last time the tournament was hosted at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. The county is conducting an economic-impact study of the tournament this year for the first time, she said.

Officials expect the bulk of the revenue to come from the county’s 5-percent hotel tax.

“There is a tax on hotels, they’ll generate revenue from that,” said Mr. Grant, adding that all local hotels are booked. “Also purchasing their gas, the shops, the restaurants, things like that.”

Local businesses say they are ready for the additional visitors.

“I really thought we would start getting busy on Monday and Tuesday because a lot of people are coming in to set up, but we really haven’t seen that much yet,” said Bonaventure Gonsalves, managing partner of the Bonefish Grill, located about a quarter-mile from the tournament. “I am really hoping — and I know for a fact that the other businesses around me are too — that it starts hitting us soon.”

Since the restaurant was not open during the last Presidents Cup, Mr. Gonsalves said he called a partner in Southern Pines, N.C., where the U.S. Open was held last year, to prepare for the crowds and get an idea of appropriate staffing levels.

“I wanted to make sure that we have the freshest products and not run out of everything,” he said. “You can never be over-prepped.”


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