More than 20,000 attended golf event |

More than 20,000 attended golf event

Just weeks after this year’s American Century Celebrity Golf Championship wrapped up, organizers have already swung into action planning for the 2002 tourney.

The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority will host a local sponsor summit next month to take suggestions about next year’s event at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

“It’s something we want to do while it’s still fresh in their minds,” LTVA Executive Director Terry LeBan said.

On a national level, American Century extended its contract as the title sponsor through 2005.

Company spokesman Brian Spano said American Century will meet with NBC Sports in August to plan for next year’s event. Spano thinks NBC will compile a list of celebrity picks by January.

The 20,680 people who attended over the Fourth of July holiday three weeks ago exceeded the estimate of 20,000 and surpassed numbers for 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1999, LeBan said. Last year’s tournament, which featured basketball superstar Michael Jordan, drew nearly 26,000 people.

Next year’s tournament is set for July 16-21, which translates to two big tourism weeks in July. Tournament visitors mean added dollars for the business community, tourism officials believe.

Host hotel Caesars Tahoe was packed with people on the gambling floor Saturday night during this year’s tournament. Caesars essentially turns over its hotel for the event and plans to continue to do so through at least 2003.

“It’s one big event that we don’t mind getting behind,” said Kathleen Mitchell, who handles Caesars’ special events.

Mitchell has noticed a surge in activity in the casino from both visitors and locals. Many tend to come out and play when the celebrities show up.

One woman on the casino floor Saturday screamed into a cell phone: “I just saw Maury Povich.”

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