Overall, the academic research, finds little evidence that large tournaments (like the Olympics) make economic sense to local communities. They're a loss leader. You pay to have them to bolster your reputation, not because you're going to make money.
But, golf tournaments are different apparently. This is because golf tournaments don't usually mean a community had to build a brand new golf tournament to host a major tournament.
In the case of Pierce County, Chambers Bay and the US Open, this is not what happened.
In fact, the Chambers Bay course was built specifically for the US Open:
The golfing world was stunned in 2008, when the United States Golf Association (USGA) made Chambers Bay the host of the U.S. Open. It just didn’t make sense. Only the most prestigious and hallowed courses were picked to host the national championship.
No course built in the previous 45 years had hosted an Open, yet Chambers Bay was picked after being open for about eight months.
This was no fluke, though. It was years in the making...This makes the Chambers Bay course more like an Olympic Stadium, leaving the county saddled with debt for the foreseeable future. It was only in the last few years that the course started paying for itself.
But, despite running in the black, the course still built up a fairly massive debt that it is yet to pay off.
The chart on page 44 of this document shows the various ways Piece County has built up debt throughout its budget.
Even after paying off more than half a million in Chambers Bay Golf Course debt this year, the county will still be in the hole $17 million on the course.
And, even from the county's own (self proclaimed conservative) model, the county budget will only see a $600,000 bump in taxes this year because of the U.S. Open. The vast majority of the additional taxes paid here because of the U.S. Open will go to other counties and the state:
- The State of Washington: nearly $6.5 million
- King County: $2 million
- City of Tacoma: more than $440,000
- The cities of DuPont, Lakewood, Puyallup, Fife and Gig Harbor: a combined $153,000