While the first U.S. Open to be held in the Pacific Northwest is gearing up for Chamber’s Bay in mid June, activities and golf-related impacts are already being felt around Pierce County.
Hundreds of directional signs and promotional banners along Interstate 5 and downtowns around Puget Sound are popping up. Museums and attractions have opened golf themed events and exhibits through the summer. Announcements about U.S. Open-linked activities are streaming in.
“You are not going to miss the fact that the U.S. Open is coming,” said United States Golf Association Public Relations Director Janeen Driscoll.
The championship itself will run June 15 to June 21 at the county-owned Chambers Bay Golf Course, drawing an estimated 30,000 spectators and 1,000 journalists a day to the waterfront course. That translates to some $140 million in regional spending during the international event and the residual tourism boost during the years after it ends. All hotels in Puget Sound are nearing capacity or already booked, including the Murano, Silver Cloud and the Emerald Queen.
But for most residents, the impacts are less about added tourism-related spending during the coming decade and more about where the rubber hits the road, literally. The 115th U.S. Open will mean road closures and traffic slowdowns throughout University Place as well as in downtown areas since they will have full hotels and around the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup and Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, since they are being used as parking lots. Some 290 school and tour buses are set to shuttle spectators from those lots to the course. Parking and shuttles will be complimentary and at 5:30 a.m. each day, and continue for one hour following the conclusion of play. Spectators traveling from points north and east are being asked to use the fairgrounds, while tourists from areas to the south should use Fort Steilacoom. Since there will be no public parking at the course itself, security screening will be done at the lots.
People should expect heavier than normal traffic, especially along Steilacoom Boulevard, Bridgeport Way and South Tacoma Way from 7:30-10:30 a.m. then again from 4-7 p.m. as well as heavier traffic in general around the clock with the added cars flowing to and from the area.
“The transportation plan for the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay is the result of countless hours and an 18-month collaboration with community officials,” said Hank Thompson, director of U.S. Open administration for the USGA. “We are confident, after hosting many championships in small communities, that this plan will minimize delays for local residents while ensuring safe and orderly parking and shuttle services for all attendees.”
But there is more to the festivities than golf. The U.S. Open Championship Trophy will make local stops for people to get their photograph taken with the iconic image of the best golf has to offer. The first local stop will be on June 6 at the Eagle’s Pride Golf Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, then June 13 at The Home Course in DuPont on June 13, followed by June 14 at Chambers Bay and June 16 at the American Lake Veterans Golf Course.
Seattle’s Pacific Science Center will have "mini-learning lab" involving the science behind golf May 14 to June 15, and the Tacoma Historical Society currently has “Tacoma Tee Time,” a historical look at golf in the Pacific Northwest through July 31.