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Our Cup Runneth Over

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Approach to the 18th hole at the Valhalla clubhouse
The Ryder Cup with all its international hoopla is now in the record books. It went rather well, despite a freak windstorm the weekend before that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands in the Louisville area. The U.S. Team took back golf’s golden cup from the Europeans after three days of competition on the gorgeous Valhalla Golf Club course before a television audience totaling several hundred million.

Importantly, golf’s top global event drew thousands from around the world to our corner of it. The media presence was massive, and some 30 percent of the estimated 1,600 credentialed media who flocked in were from Europe. From a business standpoint, it presented a marketing opportunity unlike anything Kentucky has had before.

Valhalla, Louisville and the commonwealth all apparently drove it long and true down the middle of the fairway. It was well organized, well run, well attended, well played and left a feeling of satisfaction.

Phil Weaver, chairman of The Professional Golfers’ Association of Great Britain, praised Louisville, the state of Kentucky and Valhalla Golf Club for “finding the spirit and resolve to stage the 37th Ryder Cup to perfection.”

Further praise came from Wales First Minister Rhodri Morgan, whose Celtic Manor course in Newport, Wales, will host the 38th Cup in two years: “Valhalla is going to be a very hard act to follow. The tournament has been so expertly staged by The PGA of America and embraced so warmly by the people of the Louisville area and the whole of Kentucky. We now know what we have to match. You have set the bar very high.”

The hope is that it was all so irresistible that members of the business world will decide the commonwealth is a desirable spot for their next enterprise. That seems a reasonable hope. The Lane Report asked a variety of Kentucky’s top government and business officials for their take on how the Ryder Cup played out. Here are the responses we got:

I’m very proud of our performance

After seeing the Ryder Cup and speaking with dozens of guests from Kentucky, other states, and other countries, I believe we delivered this message: Kentucky is a great place to bring a business, an event, or tour and that Kentuckians work cooperatively to make good things happen.
I’m very proud of our performance as a state hosting the Ryder Cup. Having two Kentuckians, Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes, on the winning U.S. team made it even better.

Our commonwealth was on the world stage with 500 million viewers for this event. I think anyone who attended the tournament or who watched on television would agree that Kentucky and the cordial hosts in Jefferson County put on a great event.

One of our goals, of course, is that businesses, special events, conventions and tourists will want to come to our great state after experiencing the Ryder Cup. Our Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and Economic Development Cabinet are pursuing leads developed during the Ryder Cup.
The PGA and the Ryder Cup gave the state a chance to shine and to prove that we can successfully carry out a major sporting event. In two years, Kentucky will be hosting the Alltech 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games. It will be the first time the event has been held outside of Europe.
It will be a challenge, but I am confident that Kentucky will rise to the occasion.

Kentucky was showcased to the world
After years of planning and, literally, thousands of hours of meetings and preparations, the 2008 Ryder Cup teed off in Louisville – and it was flawless.
It took lots of hard work to make the international tournament looks easy.
As global television audience about 700 million watched the U.S. team beat the European team, the city itself hosted 8,000 international guests.
More than 250 corporations showcased Valhalla, city attractions and dining to clients — and 40,000 guests per day witnessed world-class golf in a world-class facility.

The economic impact was estimated at $120 million – but, perhaps more importantly, was the way Louisville, and Kentucky, were showcased to the world.

Video clips of downtown, including a huge pep rally at Fourth Street Live, proved that Louisville is a vibrant, attractive city – a good place to live, to visit and to do business.

Perhaps most amazing was the fact that Louisville hosted a successful Ryder Cup the same week that a massive windstorm knocked out power to 301,000 customers in Louisville, the worst storm in 30 years.

Louisville showed the world that we are a city where anything is possible.

Valhalla and Louisville will be remembered for years

The economic and visibility opportunities presented by the Ryder Cup surpassed expectations. For a few days in September, Louisville had the eyes of world on us, and by all accounts, we performed as well as the U.S. Team … proving this really is Possibility City. While still recovering from the winds of Hurricane Ike, the community demonstrated our usual welcoming charm to thousands of visitors from around the country and around the globe. More than 1,600 members of the media shared their impressions and experiences to audiences worldwide.

Those in the local service and hospitality industries were given a boost, and many local vendors and suppliers were used by the PGA, including several women- and minority-owned businesses. It is estimated the economic impact was more than $120 million. And that number may grow. During the event, Greater Louisville Inc.’s economic development team hosted guests with the potential to make investments and create jobs in our region. The Ryder Cup helped us strengthen those relationships.

The Cup Experience events such as the 13th Man Pep Rally at Fourth Street Live and the Soiree Under the Stars at Churchill Downs extended an opportunity for the entire community to share in the experience and excitement of Ryder Cup. I couldn’t be prouder of our community and our state … and our U.S. Team. They have ensured that Valhalla in Louisville will be remembered for years to come as the place where America won back the Cup.

2008 Ryder Cup will no doubt lead to long-term benefits
Kentucky can be proud of hosting the history-making 2008 Ryder Cup. Every aspect of the event reflected the true spirit of Kentucky – from the numerous community-organized events, to the hospitality and professionalism shown by everyone at Valhalla Golf Club, and of course, the U.S. Team featuring two of Kentucky’s finest golfers.
With an estimated economic impact of more than $120 million, the 37th Ryder Cup was obviously an enormous success for the commonwealth.
The global media exposure provided an excellent marketing opportunity to showcase to thousands of guests and millions of television viewers the many attractions the Bluegrass State has to offer.
The world-class event set the stage for Kentucky to highlight the many business advantages available to existing and prospective economic development clients. The relationships formed from the 2008 Ryder Cup will no doubt lead to long-term benefits for creating economic opportunities in the state.

Our hospitality was second to none
I believe Louisville was perceived very well and we did put our best foot forward. It was a great opportunity to be featured on national and international television. All the references to Louisville and Kentucky were glowing, from the players who loved the gallery to visitors and media.
Members of the Kentucky Restaurant Association prepared for Ryder Cup for months – we had training for servers, international serving tips, clothing, hats, pins for the community, cabbies and volunteers to wear – the red carpet was rolled out. I think we’re well positioned to do more and more events of this caliber. Even with a power outage due to Hurricane Ike, logistics worked well.
I’m not sure it fulfilled my restaurant members’ expectations. Many of them lost power due to the storm, and their sales and inventory was affected for several, most or all the days their sales could have been boosted. Most of them were lucky to have a normal or slightly better week due to the power outage and many locals dining out. Many visitors didn’t venture far from their hotels once their long day at the course and traveling back and forth was over.
What message did we manage to send visitors? Louisville is a world-class destination – our hospitality is second to none! I’d put our restaurants up against any city’s. Regarding direct economic impact, I don’t know, but it was less than forecasted, at least at restaurants. As for long-term impact, I think absolutely we’ll get repeat visitors who may have traveled here for the first time.

A beautiful and exciting week for Louisville
Louisville International Airport (SDF) was pleased to serve as the gateway to our community for national and international air travelers to the 2008 Ryder Cup.

What we have discovered over the years is that every special event has its own unique set of challenges and opportunities; the Ryder Cup was no exception. For Louisville International, the biggest challenge during the week was accommodating the European team’s unusual international nonstop arrival and departure.

Because the passengers needed to clear Customs immediately upon arrival in the United States, airport staff worked with the Kentucky State Fair Board, Louisville Metro Police, the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and, of course, PGA officials for more than a year to coordinate the necessary plans and approvals. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and the arrival and departure went seamlessly as planned.
We also worked with the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau and Greater Louisville Inc. to welcome guests.

Regularly scheduled commercial flights were full and an additional 1,000 seats added to accommodate Ryder Cup travelers. Perhaps the most notable aspect of air travel during the week was the almost 500 private aircraft that Atlantic Aviation hosted during the festivities.

In addition, the airport’s business partners in the passenger terminal featured Ryder Cup promotions, displays and merchandise with impressive preliminary results.

All in all, it was clearly a beautiful and exciting week to showcase Louisville and Kentucky and we were certainly proud to do our part to welcome Ryder Cup guests to our community.

Ryder Cup goodwill could pay dividends
Sunday night, 30 miles and several hours removed from Team USA’s stirring victory in the 37th Ryder Cup, a cultural exchange took place that speaks volumes about Louisville as Possibility City and Kentucky as a great place to live, work and play.

Average White Band – with Scottish roots and a longtime favorite of urban audiences worldwide – entertained an eclectic, overflow crowd at Fourth Street Live, including a strong contingent of African Americans, with Brits, Scots, Welsh, Irish and visitors from across the United States. The concert marked the final event of an unprecedented, two-week community celebration known as The Cup Experience that wrapped around the Ryder Cup. Coupled with raucous crowds supporting Team USA and thousands of volunteers who performed on and off the golf course, as well as the wildly successful Humana Fightmaster Cup for one-armed golfers, we demonstrated once again that Kentuckians are masters at embracing big events.

Several years ago, visionary leaders in the commonwealth recognized enormous opportunity and responsibility and set in motion events that one PGA official termed “setting a new standard” for Ryder Cup host sites. Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson’s Louisville Host Committee leveraged the warmth and friendliness of Kentuckians, Valhalla’s geographical proximity with local hotels and the community’s vibrant entertainment and restaurant scenes to create an experience unmatched in Ryder Cup history.

While the state legislature appropriated dollars for security and transportation infrastructure, corporations, civic groups and fans carried the largest financial load. Regional supercenter Meijer provided the seed money to make the Cup Experience a reality. Event sponsors Churchill Downs, Humana and the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau were joined by Greater Louisville Inc. and other sponsors and fans that purchased thousands of pins and tickets to events.

The immediate economic impact was estimated to exceed $100 million; however, the incalculable goodwill created by Ryder Cup 2008 should pay dividends in Kentucky for years to come.

Ryder Cup was good for Kentucky tourim
Kentucky’s hosting of the 2008 Ryder Cup will be a major boost for tourism in Kentucky as we prepare for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet hosted travel writers, golf and vacation tour operators, convention and trade show representatives and sports executives from the United States, Canada and Europe during Ryder Cup week.

Our guests departed with a great impression of our state and the opportunities we have for business partnerships. We showed that Kentucky can effectively host major events and that Kentuckians are truly hospitable to their guests. We are looking forward to significant travel bookings, convention and trade show business and sporting events coming to Kentucky as a result of our hosting the 37th Ryder Cup.

Kentucky also founded The Fightmaster Cup, the Ryder Cup of one-armed golf with 12 players from North America competing against 12 players from Europe in a true Ryder Cup format event that will carry on to Wales when it hosts the Ryder Cup in 2010

I can’t say enough about the excellent work all the various agencies in Jefferson County performed to host this event, especially in light of the damage that occurred from high winds just days before play began.
Several of our guests visited the Kentucky Horse Park, Keeneland, a central Kentucky horse farm, bourbon distilleries, area restaurants and attractions in Louisville. They also got to see artwork produced by Kentuckians and learned about our heritage and history. We believe this will result in a steady flow of stories that will encourage Europeans, Canadians and others to visit the commonwealth.

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