In the coming weeks, the University Place City Council will discuss the city’s preliminary budget for the next two years. Part of that discussion will center on how to use $100,000 earmarked for the 2015 U.S. Open, one of the biggest sporting events ever held in the Northwest and by far the biggest in UP.
The council earlier this year discussed ways to market the city during the weeklong golf championship. That included approval of a slogan, “In Full Swing,” proposed by Rusty George Creative, a Tacoma-based firm hired to come up with a marketing strategy for University Place.
At the direction of the council, city staff took Rusty George’s idea list and whittled it down to reduce cost.
“The first number that we got from Rusty was really big and more than what anyone on the council wanted to spend,” Councilman Kent Keel said.
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Staff has recommended 150 lightpole flags and another 150 flag kits, four large banners, and 24 blade banners and kits to display the slogan, said Mariza Craig, assistant city manager and executive director of community and economic development.
Initially, the council discussed painting two main intersections with messages such as “Host city of the 2015 U.S. Open.” But cost estimates came in at more than $35,000. Craig said they’re now looking at other options.
The hope is to produce something to catch the eye of Fox Sports producers who are looking for a camera shot leading into or leaving coverage of the golf tournament, she said.
The total for the staff-recommended list is just under $25,000.
George’s proposal came in closer to $80,000. That estimate does not include George’s fee. This summer, the city spent $15,000 for the company’s work.
The council has also discussed hosting a public event for people who aren’t attending the U.S. Open but still want to be part of the action. Details of how that would look or what it would cost haven’t been discussed, but it would be paid for with part of the proposed $100,000, Craig said.
The budget also sets aside an additional $50,000 for public safety costs, such as police officer overtime during the event.
The city will use revenues from the U.S. Open to pay for event-related expenses, including the marketing materials.
The city has already received $700,000 in admission tax revenue, said Eric Faison, assistant city manager and executive director of finance and administration. He estimated another $50,000 will be collected as the remainder of the tickets are sold.
The city also estimates it will receive $400,000 in sales tax revenue once the event starts, he said.
With the staff recommendation complete, it’s now up to the council to decide what it wants. That conversation will be part of upcoming council meetings.
“We’re working very hard to make the city inviting, festive and something that the USGA in particular feels comfortable with hosting their signature event here,” Keel said.
But at least one council member questions whether marketing the city with banners is a good use of money.
Councilman Chris Nye wants to know what the city is trying to accomplish by hanging banners and how it will measure whether the effort is successful.
“How do we know we got a bang for our dollar?” Nye said. “ And what’s the end result?”
The council is set to discuss the $37 million budget Nov. 3 before voting to approve it Nov. 17.