City to be site of parking lot for 2017 U.S. Open
Event at Erin Hills could have major economic impact locally

By Jake Meister - Enterprise staff

Oct. 20, 2016

OCONOMOWOC — A parcel of land in Oconomowoc will be transformed into a parking lot that will accommodate a portion of the tens of thousands of people who are expected to attend the 2017 U.S. at Erin Hills Golf Course.

Eric Steimer, championship manager for the 2017 U.S. Open, told the Enterprise that the United States Golf Association has identified and selected a parcel of land just off of Interstate 94 in Oconomowoc, though he declined to identify its name or location at this time.

For the USGA, the creation of a satellite parking system and a transportation plan for all major golf tournaments is an absolute necessity. Steimer said the lots do a wonderful job of pushing away the bulk of spectator traffic around the courses. By dispersing the many spectators, (Steimer expects 16,000 to 18,000 vehicles to travel to the course for the tournament) congestion on area roads is greatly reduced, and a bottleneck of bumpers isn’t as likely.

Steimer said the parcels of land will be improved until they are significant enough to hold cars for seven days: during the tournament’s practice rounds, June 12-14, 2017, and during the tournament, June 15-18, 2017.

The lot that will be built in Oconomowoc will accommodate the traffic coming from the western portions of the state, such as Madison, the western suburbs of Milwaukee, southern Wisconsin and Illinois.

The area will be restored to its previous state or something similar after the tournament.

Once parked, the USGA will take the tournament spectators to Erin Hills in shuttle vehicles that can seat about 50 people at a time. The parking and transportation will be free.
 

The U.S. Open: a time to showcase Lake Country

Preliminary estimates suggest the 2017 U.S. Open will have a $130 million to $140 million economic impact on the area, Steimer said. Moreover, he said the area where men’s major golf championships are held typically experience positive economic impact several years after the last ball is teed off. These whopping statistics haven’t gone unnoticed in Oconomowoc, which has been seeking ways it can maximize the benefits presented by U.S. Open.

Bob Duffy, the director of Oconomowoc’s Bureau of Economic Development, said the city scored a victory recently when Erin Hills granted its request to have Oconomowoc profiled on the city’s website.

Now begins Oconomwoc’s pursuit of major victories. Duffy said the bureau, the Oconomowoc Chamber of Commerce, and a number of businesses have now started discussing ways to encourage U.S. Open fans to visit Oconomowoc not just in 2017, but for many years to come.

“Our hope is that people who are coming for the open come to and enjoy Oconomowoc and Lake Country while they’re here,” said Katie Miller, executive director of the Oconomowoc Chamber of Commerce. “

Miller said Oconomowoc will attempt to capitalize on the fact that there isn’t anywhere close to enough lodging options in the Town of Erin to accommodate the thousands of golf fans who will be coming to the 2017 U.S. Open.

“People are going to be looking into surrounding communities as far away as Chicago” Miller said. ”Oconomowoc specifically has so much to offer in terms of lodging options, activities outside, water activities, golf courses. ...there’s so many things that we can contribute to a wonderful vacation or time away for these folks that I think we’re going to put some really nice things together.”

For more information on the 2017 U.S. Open, go to http://erinhills.com/2017-usopen/.

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