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Talks on for more Boeing Classics

More than 45,000 spectators are expected at the PGA Boeing Classic golf tournament at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge this coming week.

The tournament boosts the local economy and promotes Snoqualmie to a national audience. However, the city does not fully capitalize on the event.

Whether the fifth annual Classic is the last in Snoqualmie or just the latest in a line extending three more years is up in the air.

Negotiations for a three-year renewal of the Classic are under way with the PGA Tour, the TPC’s owners, Brightstar Golf Group of Carlsbad, Calif., and tournament sponsor Virginia Mason Hospital and Medical Center.

TPC Snoqualmie Ridge was a busy scene last week as PGA and TPC staff prepared for the event. PGA requirements make the Ridge course much more challenging.

“It helps us benchmark each year,” TPC General Manager Ryan Whitney said. “We know we’ve got to get it to a certain level.”

The tournament gives the club pride and prestige in the Seattle market and also helps promoter Snoqualmie.

“It introduces the Valley to a lot of people,” Whitney said. “It gets them to see the beauty and amenities that exist up here. People go ‘Wow, that’s a nice place to live.’”

The Classic was touted at a recent Snoqualmie merchant’s meeting as a possible branding identity for Snoqualmie Ridge.

“It helps to promote the community well beyond our borders,” said Bob Cole, Snoqualmie city economic consultant.

“It raises the profile on a state and national level,” added Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson. The Classic “has the potential to drive a lot of tourists to our area.”

The tournament also donates to Valley charities. Larson said last year’s Boeing Classic funneled more than $20,000 to area agencies, such as Encompass.

“While this is going to be a tough year economically, they will do nothing but grow,” he said.

Others credit the event with helping Snoqualmie grow.

“I can’t help but think of only positive impacts,” said Matt Campbell, golf pro at Mount Si Golf Course. “I’ve lived and worked in the Snoqualmie Valley for the last 25 years and have seen the growth first-hand. Events such as the Boeing Classic contribute to this growth.”

People come from across the globe to watch legends play on the Ridge.

“They tune in or come out to watch the best senior golfers on the planet play the game and fall in love with not only them but the Snoqualmie Valley,” Campbell said. “It doesn’t get much prettier than the Snoqualmie Valley on a bluebird day. That secret is not much of a secret anymore.

“I hope we continue to keep PGA Tour events in the Pacific Northwest,” he added.

The Boeing Classic is currently the only continuously held PGA event in Washington state.

To really capitalize on the event, Whitney, Larson and others say Snoqualmie needs more services, such as restaurants and lodging.

“It would be great if there were more hotels here,” Whitney said.

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