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Second Lancaster Women's Open to build off of 2015's success

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Local businesses spent over $2.6 million on sponsoring the 2015 U.S. Women's Open in Lancaster County and when the event arrives again in Lancaster in 2024, organizers expect 2015's success to bring more interest from businesses and attendees.

The 2015 U.S. Women’s Open broke record numbers of attendance in Lancaster County and organizers look to build off of that excitement when the 2024 open returns to the Lancaster Country Club. The United States Golf Association announced on Nov. 27 that it would be partnering with the Lancaster Country Club to bring the open to Lancaster County for a second time.

The success of the 70th U.S. Women’s Open in Lancaster in 2015 came as a surprise to its organizers, who hadn’t planned for crowds of more than 134,000 golf fans to flock to Lancaster Country Club over five days. Attendance was well over the open’s average attendance of over 100,000, Julia Pine, senior manager of communication’s for the women’s championship, said.

"The community support was truly amazing," USGA CEO Mike Davis said. "The players love it. It's really a property that has been an unknown secret in the world of golf."

Tom Baldrige, president and CEO of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said the success of 2015’s event will surely pique more interest in 2024.

“I think (businesses) will be more proactive about finding ways to make money,” Baldrige said. “They will be looking for more ways they can leverage the value of having all these people in town for a five-day stretch.”

Lancaster County hotels saw a 29 percent increase in revenue and other tourism businesses in the county combined had an increase in revenue of 22 percent during the 2015 open. That increase in revenue could be significantly higher in 2024 as organizers spend resources to pull interest from markets outside of the county, according to Joel Cliff, director of communications and advocacy for Discover Lancaster.

“The overall impact on the lodging industry and the follow-up spending was a nice boost that week but not a tidal wave,” Cliff said, adding that both the club and the USGA plan to bring more fans from markets such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York. “Hopefully a natural consequence of that will be some of the people spend a couple of days here and go to other attractions.”

Country club president Ted Bloom said the club and the USGA will look at broadening the open’s sponsorship for the next event after breaking records in 2015. He said that he doesn’t see the club needing to sell itself as hard in 2015 and that he believes word of mouth of the last open’s success will be of great benefit to the next event.

"I think we surprised the corporate community with just how great of an event this could be," Bloom said. "One of our goals for 2024 will be to get that word out to a larger web, to not only local and regional corporations but to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh."

West Earl Township-based Benchmark Construction was among the event’s sponsors in 2015 and Lynda Sherwood, director of employee growth, said the sponsorship proved beneficial for the company. Benchmark’s sponsorship of over $200,000, earned it an indoor space within the club to entertain and build good will with clients, Sherwood said.

“We would definitely consider (sponsoring in 2024) because we felt it was a huge success,” Sherwood said. “It had a very relaxed community feel to it. I don’t know if anybody had a bad experience.”

Mike Butz, senior managing director for open championships and association relations, estimated that the 2024 open will bring in between $25 million and $30 million to Lancaster County, which matches estimates from the 2015 event.

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Ioannis Pashakis

Ioannis Pashakis

Ioannis Pashakis covers health care and Lancaster County. Email him at ipashakis@cpbj.com.

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