Celebrity golf tournament boosts local economy
The celebrities are flocking back to South Lake Tahoe for the 23rd American Century Championship golf tournament, bringing with them an economic boost to businesses throughout the city.
“Besides the Fourth of July, it’s definitely the biggest weekend we see in the summer,” Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Executive Director Carol Chaplin said.
The numbers – and the traffic on U.S. Highway 50 – don’t lie. According to Chaplin, the ACC attracted about 40,000 people last year and she expects a slightly higher amount for this year’s event. When LTVA conducted a customer value survey, the results showed that the average celebrity golf guest stayed three days and spent $100 each day.
If 80 percent of those 40,000 spectators are from out of town, that puts the overall direct economic impact at just below $10 million.
If you take into account some of the indirect impacts as well, that number could be as high as $20 million, Chaplin said. Those indirect benefits include all the media attention focused on South Lake Tahoe this week, as well as the catering, concerts and the increased air traffic.
With jets coming in by the dozen, this is the busiest week of the year for the Lake Tahoe Airport. According to Steve DiSerio, assistant manager of Mountain West Aviation at the airport, they’ll see about five times the amount of traffic as a normal week. Between Tuesday and Sunday, DiSerio estimates that about 50 planes will have passed through an airport that usually sees only a plane or two a day.
“This is what makes the season for us,” said Tim Shankland, a flight instructor and line-service technician at the Lake Tahoe Airport.
After the celebrities hit the tarmac, many of them will head over to Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Harveys Resort and Casino, the host hotels for the tournament. The casinos will be booked to capacity for the weekend, the resorts’ Director of Entertainment and Public Relations John Packer said.
According to Packer, July and August make up about 40 percent of Harrah’s and Harveys economic plan.
“The ACC really gets summer into high gear. It’s probably the most economically successful time in town. It’s been a home run for Tahoe,” Packer said.
As the apres golf scene, much of the casinos’ revenue also comes from people who head over to Harrah’s and Harveys in the evening.
Even after the celebrities leave on Sunday, the economic benefits don’t stop. Last year, the LTVA received a $100,000 donation from the tournament made possible by the partnership with American Century, the Livestrong Lance Armstrong Foundation and NBC Sports, Chaplin said. In the past, that money has gone on to benefit organizations such as the Tahoe Youth and Family Services, Search and Rescue, the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, the Tahoe Bicycle Coalition and more.