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Breezy Point

Local Golf
September 24, 2017

Lessons Learned From A Trip To Germany
Community Art Project
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Community Art Project
Prairie Meadows Casino and Hotel
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Prairie Meadows Casino and Hotel
By R.J. Smiley

Des Moines CVB CEO, Greg Edwards, discusses the economic impact of the Solheim Cup to Des Moines and Iowa.

The tagline, "Catch Des Moines" is a pretty appealing marketing phrase for a mid-sized city located in a farm state in flyover land. On a daily basis Greg Edwards, CEO and President of the Des Moines area CVB, and his marketing staff use the tagline to highlight the variety of attractions and entertainment venues to be found in Des Moines, Iowa. Working outside the box, Edwards and his staff are providing Solheim Cup guests a smorgasbord of Iowa attractions. To maximize the economic opportunity presented with the Solheim Cup, Edwards and his cadre of employees and volunteers are leaving no rock unturned to showcase every asset available in his community.

Edwards spent a week in Heidelberg, Germany during the 2015 Solheim Cup. When he was asked what he learned from his trip, Edwards was quick with his answer, "We arrived in Heidelberg by train and immediately noticed that there were no banners welcoming Solheim Cup guests to Heidelberg. No information outlets were to be found at the train station or around the town." He and others making the trip representing the Solheim Cup 2017 were determined to create a festive and welcoming atmosphere in Des Moines. "We wanted the guests in our city to "Catch" every slice of Des Moines."

The Des Moines CVB knows that visitors from almost every state in the USA and countries from around the world will spend a week or more in Iowa during the Solheim Cup. "We need to tantalize these visitors with the variety of entertainment available in our community. We want them to say, 'I didn't know that Des Moines had XXXXX. Where is it and how can I get there.'"

"If there is a motel room available within 100 miles, we have not completed our mission. According to all our estimates we could have used another three to four thousand rooms. We have filled Ames motels and some travelers are commuting from Omaha and Kansas City. Our restaurants will be filled to capacity for the entire week."

Edwards has created a number of information stations strategically located in major hotels and the airport. These information centers, staffed with over 200 volunteers, will act as a concierge for Solheim Cup guests. The largest and most elaborate information center will be at the Solheim Cup golf course - Des Moines Golf & Country Club. All the information centers will provide the guests with a "Visitors Tool Kit" filled with the sights and sounds of Des Moines.

The State Capital building has proven to be a major point of interest for European visitors. Baseball is not a big sport in Europe, but the visitors from across the Atlantic have shown interest in seeing the Iowa Cubs. Word has spread that the Cubs are among the finest entertainment experience available in minor league baseball. Principal Park, the Cubs home stadium, continues to add features as Iowa's top ranked attraction.

One of the prime beneficiaries to the Solheim Cup is Prairie Meadows Casino and Racetrack. The facility near Des Moines offers a variety of slot machines and table games. But the area of Prairie Meadows entertainment venue that is creating the biggest buzz of surprise for Solheim Cup guests is the racetrack. Des Moines might be the only Solheim Cup host city with easily accessible gaming and horse racing action. Prairie Meadows has several special events planned for Solheim Cup guests.

Another area that has been an area of special interest to Solheim Cup ticket holders is the farmer's markets in Des Moines and West Des Moines. Downtown Des Moines' hosts one of the top ranked farmer's markets in the country. The downtown market is open every Saturday and serves amazing breakfasts. West Des Moines has a smaller farmer's market open Wednesday evenings. Many of the overseas guests coming for the Solheim Cup are from European cities where a daily trip to the market for fresh produce was a daily activity only a few years ago. They are curious how the American's do it.

Solheim Cup guests are expected to fill the seats of the IMAX Theater at the Science Center of Iowa and take advantage of the beautiful summer evenings on rooftop craft breweries. Others will cool off from a day in the sun at the Solheim Cup Matches at any one of several water parks scattered around the city. The Iowa State Fair, one of the largest in the U.S., will give travelers a cross section of American life at one venue while specialty shopping Iowa style will attract those seeking a special souvenir. The knowledgeable volunteers who will man the information booths will help spread the wealth to a mixed bag of business owners.

A very high percentage of fans coming to the Solheim Cup are golfers. Many of the Solheim Cup visitors are bringing their golf clubs and have already booked advanced tee times to experience golf, Midwestern style. Most of the top public access golf courses have blocked tee times during Solheim Cup week specifically for guests to their city. In addition, several private clubs have made a number of Solheim Cup related tee times available to club members from around the U.S. and overseas. For public golf courses, many forced to discount their prices to sell the unused times, the Solheim Cups presents an opportunity to charge a premium for desirable tee times. All private golf clubs in the area are providing volunteers who will work at the Solheim Cup. The tee times normally utilized by these members will be a windfall for these private clubs as they will collect full priced guest fees from Solheim Cup guests. (Out of town private club members will have a better chance of securing a tee time if they work with their local golf professional.)

"The full economic impact of the Solheim Cup will not be known for a few months after the final putt drops. The fact that the event lasts for a full week means that guests will fill rooms and restaurants for the entire time. Another area that adds to the economic impact is the pre-event activities. The LPGA has had full time Solheim Cup staff in town for four years. There have been two or three media events that have brought in writers and television people from all over," states Edwards.

"The Solheim Cup gives our community another jewel to dangle on our charm bracelet when attracting future spectator and convention events. The fact that Des Moines has hosted a USGA Senior Open Championship, the NCAA Women's Regional twice, NCAA Volleyball Regional, and the NCAA Men's Basketball 2017 first and second rounds as well as the Democratic National Convention means that our small community can handle major events. We are gaining national recognition everyday."

As hype to the Solheim Cup grows daily, the frenzy of activity around the golf course and the community continues to build.

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