Thursday, September 4, 2008

Celebrity golf in Lake Tahoe

unedited july 08 tahoe mt. news

By Kathryn Reed

Charles Barkley’s $100,000 donation to Angora Fire survivors as well as his tour of the devastation last year during the celebrity golf tournament has not been forgotten.
The former NBA star will be honored with a plaque at Edgewood Tahoe and have one placed in the burn area as well. July 11 is being proclaimed Charles Barkley Day on the South Shore.
Barkley is back in town for the July 8-13 American Championship Celebrity Golf Tournament at Edgewood Tahoe.
Even though Bret Favre bailed, more than 80 celebrities will tee-off this month. Donald Trump accepted and declined the invitation to play twice. Each year NBC Sports, which owns the event, tries to have 20 percent of the field be new faces.
Last year Jack Wagner’s girlfriend Heather Locklear caused quite a buzz. If Jessica Simpson turns up to root on Tony Romo, it would likely cause even a bigger scene. A Simpson sighting could mean topping last year’s attendance record which was close to 27,000.
The winner of the 19th annual event takes home $125,000. The total purse is $600,000.
Exactly how much money the tournament brings to the South Shore is unknown. Former Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority leader Patrick Kaler said he was going to get a handle on that number. He never did.
Harrah’s Lake Tahoe is the host hotel. Pretty much everything is free for the celebrities except airfare. John Packer, spokesman for Harrah’s-Harveys, chose not to comment on the economic impact to his properties.
Hotels on the California side benefit from the six-day event, especially the ones within walking distance to Edgewood.
“It’s definitely not an all-Nevada event,” said Jerry Bindel, president of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association and general manager of Lakeland Village. He surmises 5 percent of his guests that week come for the golf tournament.
One of the biggest benefits of the tournament is media coverage. NBC Sports broadcasts live weekend. Scenic shots are shown before and after each commercial.
Last year 1,850 articles were written about the tournament. Phil Weidinger of Weidinger Public Relations says the media coverage is worth in excess of $2 million.
Mountain West Aviation is the one South Lake business to definitely reap big bucks from the tournament. General Manager Joel Waddell said the celebrities don’t flinch at $6.25/gallon for Jet A fuel.
“My ramp is full to the point where we have a hard time parking any jets and this is a huge ramp,” Waddell said.
Planes in excess of 6,000 pounds pay a landing fee that ranges from $22 to $705.
“Some come on a small Citation, some on a Global Express 5. A G5 is very big. It’s a 75,000-pound aircraft,” Waddell.

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