Omaha’s earned reputation as an impressive host city, forged with years of hard work, keeps paying off with an unusually long stay in the national spotlight.
From the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials and Figure Skating Championships to the first and second rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament to local mainstays like the College World Series and the Cox Classic, our town has had more television time recently than anything short of a Kardashian.
This is a credit to civic pride, good manners and an invested business community. The Omaha Sports Commission, the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority and the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce deserve praise for selling the region’s unique strengths to the organizers of major sporting events. But our people deserve particular praise for giving of their time and selves.
This week, our community and its golfing enthusiasts get to enjoy a new experience, hosting professional golf’s U.S. Senior Open at the Omaha Country Club. We want our guests from around the country to enjoy their stay. We want the rest of the pro golf world to learn what the Web.com Tour knows.
That we love and support golf.
Frankly, that we love and support sports.
For only the third time in tour history, organizers expect 150,000 fans, and the professional organizers of this major pro golf event are already praising Omaha’s event infrastructure as “a gold standard.”
In many communities, the Champions Tour accepts volunteers up until one of its events begins. In Omaha, organizers secured the services of about 3,000 and had to turn good people away. In many communities, the senior tour competes for attention against entrenched professional sports. Here, just as our partners in Olympic sports and college baseball found out, their sport is front-page news.
Broadcasts of senior golf’s national championship on ESPN2 and NBC-TV will share that enthusiasm with the world and, in the process, burnish our image as the destination of choice for national events that need community support to thrive.
Organizers thought so highly of the local level of interest that they opened the tour’s merchandise shops before the tournament began, something U.S. Golf Association officials say they’d never done.
We want to leave PGA officials with a positive impression. We want them to bring other events; there’s room to share with the Cox Classic.
But this interest had help. The USGA deserves credit for how early and often it engaged the neighborhoods around the Omaha Country Club. Traffic concerns were allayed, and the City of Omaha stepped up with street improvements near the course. This, like all of our hosted events, has been a team affair, and the result will be an estimated economic impact of about $30 million.
So when the throngs of thousands converge on a quiet neighborhood along North 72nd Street, most will do so by shuttle bus, and neighbors, instead of being angry about street parking and crowds, will be able to sit back and enjoy the hubbub.
Well, those neighbors not already volunteering at the course, that is. See, this is Omaha.
When we host an event, we tend to pitch in.