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Fore! University Place to pay part of security bill for U.S. Open tourney

The U.S. Open is projected to inject millions of dollars into the South Sound’s economy, but University Place will likely have to pick up part of the bill for security.

That was one of the messages Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg delivered to the University Place City Council this week.

The county’s Chambers Bay Golf Course, less than a year old, recently got word that it will be the 2015 venue of the prestigious golf tournament. It will also host the U.S. Amateur Championship in 2010.

The county’s team of logistical experts who helped convince tournament officials that the UP-based course could host major golf will now figure out how to pull off the event, Ladenburg said.

The communities expected to benefit most from visitor spending will help cover costs such as security, he said without speculating how much that cost would be.

And Ladenburg emphasized to city leaders Tuesday that the expenses will pale in comparison to the economic development expected for University Place, Tacoma and the rest of the South Sound.

The tournament is projected to draw about 65,000 visitors a day and generate at least $100 million in spending.

“Suffice it to say, every jurisdiction” will make money, he said.

On Wednesday, University Place Police Chief Jim Andrews said his department is part of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department’s team organizing security. It also includes UP Fire District 3.

A large part of the job will be keeping away people who aren’t supposed to attend the event, particularly near the golf course’s residential neighbors, he said.

It will also require screening people before they board buses that will shuttle them to Chambers Bay.

Andrews said he doesn’t expect many security problems.

“It’s not like we’re going to be getting a rowdy crowd,” he said.

Local officers will be supplemented by the U.S. Open’s contracted staff of security experts. At the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., more than 500 private security guards and about 250 police officers worked each day, according to the Open’s Web site.

The whole show was run by a former Secret Service agent who coordinated with local, county and state law enforcement. From bomb detection teams to giving directions to the 18th green, they handled it all.

Security wasn’t the only issue UP leaders pressed Ladenburg about this week.

After commending him on his vision, they questioned how Pierce County will help their suburb of 31,000 handle the visitors. They were mostly concerned with the tournament’s impact on neighborhoods along Grandview Drive West.

“Can we expect a constant convoy of buses?” asked Councilwoman Debbie Klosowski.

Ladenburg said he predicts the county’s planning group will “develop a plan for University Place and Tacoma, specifically, where they designate streets for buses only” and local traffic.

Residents will likely receive passes to move in and out of their neighborhoods.

Officials said they expect some neighbors to convert their homes into temporary lodging, which residents of other communities that host the U.S. Open often do.

“If you really hate golf, you can leave town and rent out your house for an exorbitant amount of money,” Councilman Gerald Gehring joked.

Ladenburg said he’s helping form a nonprofit group to help oversee the tournament’s festivities. The group will include CEOs and leaders of businesses such as Microsoft.

He said word of the county-owned course has spread across the globe. Shortly after Chambers Bay secured the tournament this month, he received a phone call about 4:30 a.m. from a British Broadcasting Corp. representative who wanted to know more about the course.

“We’re going to have the whole world looking at us,” he said. “Now the mission is, ‘We have to do this right.’”

Brent Champaco: 253-597-8653

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