SCOTTSDALE (3 On Your Side) -- The Waste Management Phoenix Open typically marks the start of Arizona’s tourist season, but this year, the crowds are not here and the local economy will miss out on millions.
Hash Kitchen is one of the local restaurants that can usually expect a boost in sales, thanks to its proximity to the golf course. Last year, sales quadrupled there during the tournament, according to Allison Gamberg.
"A typical Waste Management Open for Hash is awesome," Gamberg said. "People are coming to have fun, to start the party to then go and enjoy golf and continue the party down the street."
Chances of a weekend on par with last year’s spike in sales faded away when capacity at the course was cut from 200,000 fans per day to just 5,000.
"To not have that additional tourism attraction definitely hurts,” Gamberg said. "We hope we don’t see too much of a dip and we still hope people are going to come and enjoy, at least watch the golf on TV, still enjoy a Bloody Mary, so that’s what we’re hoping for, but unfortunately I don’t know if that’s going to happen."
The open typically pumps about $400 million into the local economy, and according to a 2017 analysis by Arizona State University, out of town visitors spend an average of $393 per day.
"With the need for PGA to restrict to less than 5% of their normal capacity, we can expect that revenues will flow similarly," said Pam Gilbert, the director of sales and marketing at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.
The resort has been the host hotel of the tournament for decades. Even it was not immune from COVID's impact.
"Unfortunately, most of the sponsor blocks that normally stay with us have canceled," Gilbert said.
Though the revenue may be just a slice of revenue in a typical year, businesses are still banking on an economic boost.
"What is so important to us at the resort and really Scottsdale as a community is the national television coverage of our gorgeous destination in the sunshine we hope helps tourism recover here in Arizona," Gilbert said.
It’s not just businesses missing out on money. According to the ASU analysis, the open created $13 million in direct sales tax revenue for the state, county and city.