Presidents Cup opening event to feature Rascal Flatts

Matches viewed as door-opener for central Ohio

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  • File photo
    Rascal Flatts

The golf world is coming to Columbus, spending about $23 million and hopefully leaving with the impression that central Ohio is a great place to visit and do business.

The Presidents Cup pits the top U.S. golfers against their international peers from non-European countries and will be held Oct. 1-6 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin.

“You can’t place a value on the exposure we’ll receive,” Dublin Mayor Tim Lecklider said yesterday during a news conference at Columbus Commons. “This is a tremendous opportunity to market the central Ohio area.”

The news conference was used to announce that the Presidents Cup’s opening ceremony will be held on Oct. 2 at the Columbus Commons and will feature country music stars Rascal Flatts, which has Columbus ties.

“This is the first time we’ve held the opening ceremonies off the site of the tournament,” said Dan Sullivan, director of the Presidents Cup. “The goal is to bring the community together.”

Opening ceremony festivities will include an international food festival, other musical performers and appearances by the U.S. and International team members.

A total of 5,000 general admission tickets for the opening ceremony will be sold for $30 each starting on Aug. 1 at www.presidentscup.com or area Kroger grocery stores.

“Columbus Commons was built to bring everyone together, and the Presidents Cup is the culmination of that,” said Guy Worley, president and CEO of Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and Capitol South, which owns and operates the park. “Having the world come together here is exactly what we had in mind.”

The matches will bring a cash infusion to the region and could lead to future business opportunities, Lecklider said.

“There will be all these business executives from overseas here who will see our health sciences or our tech community, and you never know,” he said. “They could be the next Cardinal Health.”

Sullivan said visitors are expected to spend about $23 million, based on previous Presidents Cups. The total economic impact might reach $50 million when the trickle-down effect of the direct spending is factored in.

The Presidents Cup began in 1994 and rotates between U.S. and foreign venues. It will be held in South Korea in 2015.

“From an image standpoint, having it here will help us attract other international competitions,” said Linda Logan, executive director of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission.

International hockey, rugby and soccer events are examples of events the commission could bid on, she said.

The opening ceremony will be broadcast by the Golf Channel, said Sullivan, who is also the tournament director of the annual Memorial Tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus. About 35,000 fans are expected to attend each day of the Presidents Cup.

Hosting the Presidents Cup will help the city and region’s image, Sullivan said.

“What I know from talking to people around the PGA is that the world out there knows about Columbus,” he said. “Columbus is unique in that it’s a big city but still has that close-knit community feel, and we want the entire community to be part of this event.”

swartenberg@dispatch.com

@stevewartenberg