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With a $157.7 million impact, the Tulsa economy also was a PGA Championship winner

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Fifteen months before Southern Hills Country Club would host the 2022 PGA Championship — the club’s eighth major professional championship — it was estimated by city officials that the tournament would have an impact of $143.5 million on the Tulsa economy.

Considering that Tulsa’s 2001 U.S. Open had an impact of $65 million and the 2007 PGA Championship’s local value was measured at $70 million, the $143.5 million projection was staggering and potentially phenomenal for local hotels and restaurants as their finances were damaged during the COVID-19 shutdown and aftermath.

On Wednesday, 2022 PGA Championship impact figures were released to the Tulsa World. And they actually exceed what had been expected.

During the week of May 16-22, an estimated $82.7 million was spent around town. An additional $75 million was spent at Southern Hills on corporate hospitality venues, tickets, merchandise and concessions.

When those dollar figures are bundled, the estimated impact amounts to $157.7 million. The PGA Championship by far was the most lucrative event in Tulsa history. More than 60,000 Tulsa-area hotel rooms were occupied that week.

As Justin Thomas rallied from a final-round deficit of eight shots and prevailed in a playoff, Southern Hills’ eighth professional major tournament set PGA Championship records for ticket revenue overall and merchandise revenue.

The revenue generated by corporate hospitality venues was “close” to the championship record, Southern Hills general manager Nick Sidorakis said.

“This was unequivocally a record-breaking week for our city and region,” said Mike Neal, the president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “It was a week that painted a perfect picture of Tulsa.

“I can’t thank the corporate community enough. Companies of all sizes stepped up big-time in writing checks to ensure that their clients were well entertained.”

While Tulsa had been scheduled to host the 2030 PGA Championship, the PGA of America stripped the 2022 event from a Donald Trump-owned New Jersey club after the Jan. 6, 2021, incident at the U.S. Capitol.

A few days later, the PGA of America announced that Southern Hills would follow its hosting of the 2021 Senior PGA Championship with the hosting of the 2022 PGA Championship. Even before Tulsa officially was awarded its eighth professional major championship, Sidorakis reports, $8.5 million in local corporate support was pledged for another PGA Championship.

“We were up against stiff competition (for the 2022 tournament),” Sidorakis said, “but that level of corporate support really impressed (the PGA of America) and worked in our favor. Everything was aligned with us.”

The extremely busy and memorable PGA Championship week also included Eagles and Brooks & Dunn concerts at the BOK Center, along with the second of three Tulsa-hosted Ironman competitions.

Responding to Sidorakis’ mention that there were 144 hours of PGA Championship coverage on CBS, the CBS app, ESPN, ESPN Plus and Golf Channel, Neal shared another remarkable figure related to Tulsa’s media reach.

“We engage a company called Meltwater — our chamber’s media-monitoring software,” Neal explained. “We asked them to measure, from May 1 through May 31, the national and international media coverage equivalent for the PGA, for Southern Hills and for Tulsa. That (value) was estimated to be in excess of $1.2 billion for our region.

“We would have to spend $1.2 billion on advertising to gain the same exposure that we got for free from media outlets across the country and across the globe.”

Said Joel Koester, the director of sports sales for the Tulsa Sports Commission: “When (the PGA telecast) would go into or come out of a commercial, there were (images) of Southern Hills or various locations around Tulsa. That content was incredible.”

Sidorakis says Southern Hills President Scott Mabrey and a group of influential club members were responsible for booking two fund-raising music events that week. Eric Church played at the Champions Pavilion on the Southern Hills property, while Pitbull did a concert two nights later at the Philbrook Museum of Art.

Proceeds from those performances resulted in a six-figure donation to each of four organizations: the Tulsa Dream Center, Tulsa Day Center, PGA Reach and First Tee Tulsa. Never before had any PGA Championship included community-beneficial events like the Church and Pitbull shows.

The PGA Championship’s 50,000-square-foot merchandise building was open for 10 days. The PGA of America has not released a dollar amount on Tulsa merchandise sales, but the size of the facility and the almost constantly heavy consumer traffic became a storyline during tournament week.

“It was insane and visually stunning, how much merchandise they had,” Koester said.

Featured video: Spectators contend with steep booze price at Southern Hills PGA Championship

Tulsa's Southern Hills will host the PGA Championship from May 19-22.

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