The U.S. Open at Chambers Bay generated millions in tax revenue — some of which should be used to defray Pierce County’s expenses.
SINCE the end of the U.S. Open, people keep asking me if we will get another Open in the future. I am certain that the United States Golf Association would like to come back to Chambers Bay. The answer, however, lies in local governments.
The U.S. Open is a huge economic benefit to the state and the Puget Sound area’s business community. It likely generated more than $150 million in economic development. As everyone saw, hotels were filled at holiday rates, restaurants were booked solid, rental cars were all taken and many other businesses profited nicely.
Of course, this generated additional taxes for local governments. Increases in sales-tax, hotel-motel-tax and car-rental-tax revenues created millions of dollars in windfalls for local counties and cities. So why would Pierce County not invite the USGA back? Because Pierce County was almost forced to go it alone.
Pierce County had to take the liability risk for the U.S. Open and had to pay for all the security at the site. That cost the county more than $1 million. Closing the course for months cost the county as well. Only University Place, with a $50,000 payment, Lakewood, with $40,000, and Tacoma, with $290,000, provided help.
The state is considering providing some financial help. Just last week, though, Pierce County announced that it hoped to just “break even” on the tournament.
King County, Seattle and Bellevue, and other nearby counties and cities, benefited from the increased taxes, but offered not one dime to help. In fact, those that sent police and sheriff officers to help then charged Pierce County their overtime rates. So, why would Pierce County take the liability risk again for an event that may cost it money?
local governments need to enter into an interlocal agreement to share the wealth and make sure the host government is also rewarded.”
What is the solution? It is simple. Like other places in the nation where the U.S. Open is held, local governments need to enter into an interlocal agreement to share the wealth and make sure the host government is also rewarded. A start would be for local governments to waive the overtime fees they want Pierce County to pay for this event.
A solution would be for every city and county in the region to immediately offer to enter into an agreement that provides 30 percent of any windfall taxes to be returned to Chambers Bay, which would help keep it a world-class golf course.
So, if your business profited from the Open and would like to see another one, ask your local government official, mayor or executive what they are doing to encourage Pierce County to take the risk again.