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Town leaders weigh in on Knoxville Open impact

Farragut officials and economic development spokesmen are concerned about the impact possible cancellation of the Knoxville Open professional golf tournament at Fox Den Country Club could have on the Town.

“It has a pretty significant impact, I think, and I would hate to see us lose it,” Alderman Bob Markli, also member of the Town’s economic development committee, said.

The event is estimated to have drawn 40,000 spectators in 2009, according to information filed in a sponsorship application with the town of Farragut this year.

In the past, the Town has donated $10,000 every year to the event, which would be used this year, according to the application, for public seating on the 18th green.

It also is estimated the Knoxville Open creates a $5 million to $6 million impact on the local economy.

“I think that’s the type of event Farragut needs as it brings people from all over Knoxville, all over East Tennessee, I guess, and shows us at our best,” Phil Dangel, EDC member and owner of The Shrimp Dock, said.

Pamela Treacy, EDC member and owner of Campbell Station Wine and Spirits, said, “One of the things we’re really known for, indirectly, through schools and through the Knoxville Open, is sports.

“I would love to see us have more tournaments here, especially since we’re known for our parks and everything,” she added.

David Purvis, Farragut Wine and Spirits owner and EDC member, agreed.

“One of our assets is our sporting facilities … the Knoxville Open, obviously, is a big event for the community,” he said.

Purvis said Farragut should take steps in the future to promote events such as the Knoxville Open.

Town Recorder Allison Myers said Sales Tax records are inconclusive as to the impact of the Open directly on Farragut.

Records for 2005 through 2008 reveal that June Sales Tax records, the month the Open normally is held, increased over the previous month only every other year.

But Myers said, there’s no way to tell if that increase was due to the Open or not. The Town does not receive hotel or motel taxes, so that also is not a way to track economic impact in Farragut.

EDC chair Jim Holladay said attendees and competitors “stay in hotels and motels, eat meals, go to bars, what have you … all I know is it would be very devastating for Farragut.

“Beyond that, as to how devastating it would be, I couldn’t say how devastating it would be. But from an economic standpoint, it would really be a terrific loss to the whole community,” he added.

The Knoxville Open is in jeopardy since Food City, title sponsor of the tournament since 2002, discontinued that role after being informed in late 2009 the tournament no longer would be held.

Food City also was informed the tournament had not been able to donate to local charities, including the Boys and Girls Club of East Tennessee, for the past two years.

Since then, PGA has stepped in to administer the tournament, with PGA tour official Patrick Nichol taking over for Matt Wright, former tournament director through Knox Area Golf Charities.

Earlier this week, the PGA announced it would give $250,000 to the tournament, but said it would need nearly $750,000 in corporate sponsorships to keep the event going.

“The ultimate goal of Knox Area Golf Charities and the Knoxville Open is to raise money for area charities while providing area residents the opportunity to enjoy a PGA Tour event. The event also provides a significant economic impact for the area,” the Farragut application, written by Nichol, states.

The Knoxville Open is scheduled for June 10-13 at Fox Den Country Club.


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