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July 31, 2007
Response positive to LPGA event in New Rochelle; numbers off
Westchester Business Journal, 7/30/07
As predicted, the HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship was a boon to local business in New Rochelle, though early estimates showed not as many spectators came as were expected.
The four-day tournament at Wykagyl Country Club on North Avenue drew approximately 15,000 spectators, said tournament director Jason Soucy. Before the event, tournament officials had hoped to draw closer to 30,000.
“It’s probably average,” Soucy said of the 15,000 figure. “I think we were hoping for more folks to come on out.”
Soucy said that might be due in part to the lack of a big name, such as Annika Sorenstam, to make it to the final rounds of the tournament.
Still, the event did serve as a good advertisement for New Rochelle and Westchester County to the rest of the nation since the tournament was televised: on The Golf Channel for the first two days and on CBS during the weekend rounds.
“I think New Rochelle got some really nice exposure,” Soucy said. “It was really good for Westchester to get looked at in this way.”
The LPGA has had a long relationship with Wykagyl; though last week’s event was arguably the most prestigious tour event to be held there. Previous Wykagyl LPGA events were held in May. Wykagyl has hosted professional women’s golf events for 23 years, 18 consecutively.
“We have a relationship with them, we’ll sit down with them and recap to see how things went and see if there’s an opportunity to continue,” said Soucy of Wykagyl.
Soucy said the course itself received high praise from both the golfers and the CBS television crew.
“There was a lot of praise; the women really liked it,” he said of the just-completed $6.5 million Coore and Crenshaw Inc. golf course makeover
For the most part, local business reaped the benefit of the influx of spectators into the city, said New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) Executive Director Ralph Di Bart.
“I checked with some of the businesses and towards the end of last week people saw more traffic downtown because of the event,” he said.
BID provided nearly 9,000 restaurant guides for distribution at the event.
“The vendors preparing food from downtown and the caterers did really well,” he said.
Di Bart said the tournament also served to show potential tourists what New Rochelle has to offer.
“We’re very pleased that so many have come to New Rochelle,” he said. “This was a prestigious event that drew a lot of people.”
He said that plays into the larger picture of the city’s overall renaissance.
“People are coming back to downtown New Rochelle, including people who haven’t been that aware of us in the past” said Di Bart.