It’s finally here.
If it feels like we’ve been waiting for the U.S. Open to hit town for almost decade, that’s because we have. It was February 2008 when the United States Golf Association picked Chambers Bay as the site for the 2015 U.S. Open, and even that was a victorious moment years in the making.
Back in 2008, Hillary Clinton was running for president and the New England Patriots had recently been caught cheating.
My, how things change.
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Since then, we’ve been left to ponder what bringing the biggest event in golf to Pierce County will mean for our little slice of the Pacific Northwest. Will the national spotlight be kind? Will the money flow in University Place like half-price appetizers at Applebee’s on Bridgeport?
We’ll find out this week.
Admittedly, my knowledge of golf is limited to how to best navigate the boat at Parkland Putters. And, speaking of boats, you might have noticed it’s all hands on deck this week when it comes to covering the U.S. Open at The News Tribune.
In an attempt to pull my weight, here are a two non-golf-related predictions:
It once appeared that golf-loving state lawmakers might be motivated to finish their work by the time the U.S. Open began, especially with Pierce County offering them free tickets to the event.
That hasn’t happened, and now the deadline for avoiding a government shutdown is near.
For an expert take, I reached out to Jordan Schrader, the one News Tribune scribe not covering the U.S. Open this week (only a slight exaggeration). His assessment: “One rarely goes wrong betting against agreement here. That said, Sunday is getting close to the point where they need at least a handshake deal to get the gears in motion to avoid a shutdown.”
So the question is: What will we have first, a state budget deal or a U.S. Open champ? If you’re a gambling type, you may want to hold off on those state budget bets. Unfortunately, these sorts of imminent catastrophes have become par for the course in Olympia.
Here’s one you can definitely take to the bank: At some point a national media type will slip up and refer to Chambers Bay as a Seattle course. It’s bound to happen, and when it does, Pierce County will lose its mind.
Except for Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, I guess. It seems her ire won’t be raised unless a national broadcast includes a certain well-worn visual.
“The national and international press that does its homework will highlight Greater Tacoma and include Mount Rainier, shots of the Narrows Bridge, Vashon ferries leaving Point Defiance and a beauty shot of people enjoying our downtown and waterfront,” the mayor tells me. “My righteous indignation will be triggered if we are subjected to a remote broadcast of fish being thrown at the Pike Place Market that transitions directly to Chambers Bay.”
It’s only a matter of time.
Follow the money: Predicting who will win this year’s U.S. Open might be more fun, but who ends up winning the City Council race in District 1 will prove far more important to life here in Tacoma. As you’ll recall, incumbent Anders Ibsen attracted two last-minute challengers, high school teacher John Hines and Goodfella’s Motor Company General Manager Tara Doyle-Enneking.
A good indication of how supporters are lining up behind the three candidates can be gathered from the most recent Public Disclosure Commission contribution reports.
Many of Ibsen’s ardent supporters aren’t being stingy. Before Hines and Doyle-Enneking entered the race, the incumbent had about $35,000 in his campaign coffers; today, he’s sitting at just over $50,000, thanks in large part to sizable donations from the Tacoma Police Union, backing from the likes of SEIU 1199, IBEW Local 483 and the Joint Labor Committee of Tacoma, and Point Ruston developers Mike and Lauren Cohen.
Hines, meanwhile, continues to benefit from the endorsement of those on the current City Council not named Ibsen or Mello — at least when it comes to money. Since the end of filing week, both Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Deputy Mayor David Boe have put their money where their mouths are. Strickland contributed $250 to Hines’ run and Boe threw down $500 to help bring Hines to almost $13,000 in campaign cash.
Perhaps most interesting, however, is where Doyle-Enneking’s financial support is coming from. By and large, it’s coming from one block of Sixth Avenue, and one well-known restaurateur — John Xitco, who along with partner Jeff Paradise operates Tacoma’s X Group Restaurants, including Asado, Masa and Engine House 9. All three restaurants have cut checks to Doyle-Enneking, according to the PDC report, as has Xitco (who also co-owns Goodfella’s with Doyle-Enneking’s husband, Michael Enneking).
Of the $2,595 Doyle-Enneking has reported thus far, all but $50 has come from Xitco or one of his restaurants.
“Tara got into the race late, and being a close friend, business partner and excited about her commitment to run, we decided to not hesitate in our support,” Xitco tells me. “I have heard there are many more contributions that have been committed or are in the mail.”