As Charlotte prepares to host one of the biggest sporting events in its history this week, business leaders are welcoming the opportunity to put the city in the international spotlight.
Charlotte’s first-ever golf major could draw nearly a quarter-million fans, who are expected to inject millions into the local economy.
The week-long event is estimated to have a total economic impact of up to $100 million in the Charlotte region, according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, the city’s tourism arm. When the championship was held last year at Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J., it had a similar impact, PGA of America says.
“The level of exposure to golf fans internationally, disproportionately made up of business people and decision makers, is going to be ridiculously beneficial for Charlotte,” said Bob Morgan, CEO of the Charlotte Chamber.
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The 99th PGA Championship runs Monday through Sunday at Quail Hollow Club, with tournament play taking place Thursday through Sunday.
More than 800 media credentials have been issued, and the championship will be broadcast for more than 28 hours in 200 countries to 570 million households, PGA of America says.
Morgan said he sees the event as being on a similar scale to the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
“People know what we’re capable of hosting. This will take it to the next level,” Morgan said.
Local leaders such as Morgan are using the event as a way to showcase Charlotte as a good place for business. During the week, the Charlotte Chamber is partnering with the CRVA, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and the Charlotte Regional Partnership to host a number of site consultants and economic development prospects at their designated corporate hospitality tent, Morgan said.
“They’re coming for the golf, (but) with this comes leverage,” Morgan said. “Let’s talk about Charlotte and why we’re one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation.”
Home rentals skyrocket
One of the main ways visitors are boosting the economy during the tournament is by spending on hotels and other accommodations.
Over the PGA Championship week, hotel demand in uptown Charlotte is up by 54.1 percent over the same period in 2016, according to the CRVA. Demand is up 46.1 percent across the county.
Increased demand has driven rates up, CRVA says. Nightly rates are up 39.2 percent uptown and 42 percent across the county.
According to HotelsCombined, a hotel-price comparison site, the top five places hotel visitors are coming from during the week are the Carolinas, Connecticut, Australia and Virginia.
More than 1,400 Airbnb guest arrivals have been booked in Charlotte for the four days of the golf tournament, the home-rental site says. That’s an increase of 37 percent from the same timeframe the previous week. The biggest night ever for Airbnb guest arrivals in Charlotte will be Friday of the tournament, with 1,100, the company said.
Airbnb said hosts in Charlotte will earn a total of $550,000 sharing their homes during the tournament, with the typical host making $550. The typical listing is for $90 per night.
“We know that cities need the ability to accommodate more and more guests for large-scale gatherings, and our platform provides them with an easy way to do so that also spreads economic benefits to residents and small businesses,” said Will Burns, director of public policy for Airbnb.
Meanwhile, bookings in Charlotte during the tournament week on HomeAway, which includes rental services such as VRBO, are up 94 percent from the same period a year ago, a spokesman said. The company’s Charlotte-area vacation rental inventory is 72 percent booked for the tournament period. HomeAway does not provide data on the number of rentals.
‘In our rear-view mirror’
The passage last year of North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2, which limited legal protections for the LGBT community, prompted events such as the 2017 NBA All-Star Game and the ACC Championship football game to relocate out of Charlotte.
Many speculated that the PGA would follow suit, but organizers opted to keep the event in Charlotte because Quail Hollow “is a private facility not subject to all of the provisions of HB2,” the PGA said at the time. Since then, the Republican legislature and new Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, reached a compromise to repeal HB2 in March.
Major events such as the PGA championship help move North Carolina forward, Morgan said.
“It’s more in our rear-view mirror every day,” Morgan said of HB2. “Certainly the positive exposure that comes next week will help us put that in the rear-view mirror even more.”
About the PGA
When: Monday through Sunday at Quail Hollow Club, with tournament play running from Thursday through Sunday.
Tickets: Starting Monday, tickets to this week’s PGA Championship will no longer be available – online or on site – from the PGA of America. There is, however, an official ticket exchange at www.primesport.com/d/pga-championship-tickets for fans looking to buy tickets on the secondary market. Other sites such as stubhub.com also have tickets.
Each ticketed adult can bring four “juniors” (ages 17 and younger) for free. Those with a military affiliation – active duty, retirees, reserve and National Guard – can also attend for free and bring a guest. Present a military ID at the main spectator entrance.
Transportation: Buy your parking passes ahead of time at the PGA website, or use the light rail, Uber, walk or bike.
Fan guide: Do’s and don’ts are outlined in a fan guide available at this shortened web link: bit.ly/2vb95y5. Mobile phones are allowed with some restrictions. Fans will go through metal detectors before they enter. Backpacks and drawstring bags aren’t allowed, but bags no bigger than 10 inches by 10 inches by 10 inches are permitted.
Television: CBS and TNT will provide 28 hours of live coverage.