Travelers Championship week is here, bringing some of world’s best golfers to Cromwell. The tournament officially begins Thursday with the TPC River Highlands course open to the public beginning Wednesday.
Huge crowds are expected, and it will create a significant economic impact. For the first time since 2019, the Travelers Championship will have a full capacity crowd, and that could bring lots of money to the area.
“It fills our hotels up. Our restaurants are busy. People end up getting gas and they shop at some retail establishments,” explained Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce President Larry McHugh.
Because of the pandemic, there were no fans in 2020, and last year’s tournament was capped at 10,000 spectators per day. This year, it’s unlimited, and big crowds like the past are expected.
Tournament Director Nathan Grube said the most recent economic impact study was done in 2018 and even he was surprised by the numbers.
“The last one we did, it’s north of $60 million annually,” Grube said of the overall impact on the community.
That money comes from spectators, as well as those who travel with the tour. Cromwell’s Café’ Fiore is staffing-up, preparing for the rush.
“We are expecting decent business and we’re just ready for whatever comes,” said Café Fiore bartender Binak Cecunjani.
Larger businesses are the only ones looking to capitalize. Outside the TPC River Highlands' parking area Monday, two young entrepreneurs were setting up shop.
“We’re just trying to get some customers and sell some lemonade,” said 14-year-old Marcel Dudziuk of Cromwell.
Dudziuk and his teenage business partner, Gaetano Fazio, have seen the potential.
“This time last year, Cromwell was flooded with people. There were like lots of cars everywhere," Dudziuk said.
Excitement is building as the tournament nears. Grube explains that the last two years, during the pandemic, they’ve had to concentrate on what they couldn’t do. This year, the focus is on everything they can.
“You can feel it in the volunteers and how people are buying tickets. People are excited to come out,” Grube said.
Businesses aren’t the only ones to benefit from the tournament. 100% of the net proceeds go to local charities.
Last year, the tournament distributed $2.2 million between 125 charities throughout New England.
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