Golfers aren't the only winners in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Regardless of the tournament victor, area businesses and service providers score an automatic hole in one, bagging an estimated $50 million to $75 million from the tournament, according to the Tucson Conquistadores, which facilitates the event.
"The purse is $8.75 million," said Tucson Conquistadores Executive Director Judy McDermott. "The players are all independent contractors, and all file state income tax here. It's fascinating, really. Think about that purse as a company payroll.
"Another big part of it is tourism. Just the television coverage alone - the tournament is broadcast (worldwide) - and the media impact is pretty substantial. You can't beat that kind of advertising."
McDermott said TV crews from NBC and the Golf Channel employ hundreds of people while they're in town, and they provide a boost to other industries, including entertainment and dining.
The tournament, which is Feb. 20-24 at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain, is committed to Marana through 2014.
Marana spokesman Rodney Campbell said the town has spent an estimated $300,000 in parking lot improvements, police protection and traffic control in the six years the tournament has been here and that it's "hard to quantify" whether the town sees a return on its investment.
"We have no way of knowing whether any fluctuations in sales tax collections are attributable to the tournament. For example, we don't collect sales tax on anything sold at the event. That's part of an agreement with the tour. If we did, we could point to those dollars and say they were the result of the tournament being here," Campbell said by email.
"If we broke even, we would be happy."
Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson said the tournament lets Marana show itself off to the world.
"Being the host to this international event that attracts people from around the world - not only players, but fans - is an amazing thing to have in your community," he said.
"What it brings in direct impact is the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, is at full capacity; the (Marana Regional) airport sees big increases in private jets flying in. And there are other business benefits from having the worldwide exposure."
Todd Henderson, a golf fan who works for the Marana Utilities Department and has volunteered as a driver for the tournament for the past four years, said the tournament's intangibles make it priceless.
"I absolutely love it. I enjoy playing golf, and if that's the kind of world you're in, it's the greatest," he said. "It gives a great boost to the local economy, brings a lot of attention and positive press to Marana. It gives everyone a chance to see who we are."
Keeping the attention on Marana itself, rather than Tucson, was difficult in the beginning. He credits Campbell for working with the national media to give the town its due credit.
"It's not a huge destination in terms of a major hub" he said. "Tucson was used more as a tagline, if you look back historically when this thing began. But now you see Marana used a lot more."
If you go
• What: WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
• Where: Golf Club at Dove Mountain, 13900 N. Dove Mountain Blvd.
• When: Feb. 20-24
• Tickets: Purchase at Bashas' Grocery Stores, call 571-0400 or go to www.worldgolfchampionships.com/accenture-match-play-championship/tickets.html
This article also was published in Thursday's Northwest Star. Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org