Contract shows U.S. Open plan

The United States Golf Association will pay Pierce County $2.5 million to lease Chambers Bay Golf Course for the 2015 U.S. Open, according to a draft contract for the tournament.

The county also will get a share of proceeds from the sale of hospitality packages, food and beverages, and merchandise under the contract, which will soon go to the County Council for approval.

Pierce County’s full take from the tournament is uncertain. And it will have to spend money to modify the course and make other preparations for the tournament.

County Executive John Ladenburg said hosting the championship will be a good deal for taxpayers.

“The course is making enough money to pay for itself already,” Ladenburg said. “It will easily pay for itself after the Open.”

The proposed contract between Pierce County and the USGA will get a public hearing before the County Council’s Rules Committee on May 27. It’s scheduled to go to the full council on June 3.

Among the provisions:

 • The USGA will pay the county $2.5 million to lease the waterfront course in University Place. Most of the money – about $2 million – isn’t due until July 1, 2015, after the June 18-21, 2015, tournament.

 • The association will bear most of the cost of staging the tournament and will keep most of the revenue, including all of the ticket sales. The county will get a share of proceeds from hospitality packages, some food and beverage service, and some merchandise sales.

 • The county will pay for significant modifications to the course in preparation for the tournament. It also must build a new practice facility and generally assist the association with tournament preparations.

The council also will consider a separate contract with the association for the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship, which also will be held at Chambers Bay. That contract calls for Pierce County to bear most of the cost of staging the tournament, although the county will keep nearly all of the revenue.

Tony Tipton, the county’s project manager for Chambers Bay, said he’ll deliver specific cost and revenue estimates to the County Council at the May 27 committee meeting.

Ladenburg said those estimates will be conservative and likely will show the county may lose a little money hosting the amateur championship. But he said the county will break even on the event “if we’re aggressive.”

The real money will come from hosting the U.S. Open – the nation’s premiere golf championship. Between direct income from the tournament and new sales and other tax revenue, Ladenburg said the county expects to make money.

Based on the experience of previous U.S. Open championships, county officials believe the event could have a total economic impact of at least $100 million. The tournament could draw more than 60,000 people a day and fill 10,000 hotel rooms throughout the region.

Landing the championship was a coup for Chambers Bay, which will become only the third municipal course to host the U.S. Open. The course has received several “course of the year” honors from golf media since it opened last June.

David Wickert: 253-274-7341