WILMINGTON – Delaware has never hosted a top-flight PGA Tour event, but that is about to change in a few weeks as the BMW Championship arrives at the Wilmington Country Club, bringing tens of thousands of spectators to northern Delaware. It’s a week that tourism and economic development officials have been anxiously awaiting for nearly […]
In about six weeks, one of Delaware’s biggest tourism attractions in history is set to arrive in north Wilmington as the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship comes to the Wilmington Country Club. It’s a week that tourism and economic development officials have been anxiously awaiting for nearly two years since the host organization, the Western Golf […]
WILMINGTON – Seeking to supercharge its cancer drug pipeline, pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca announced a deal potentially worth more than $1.2 billion to acquire a small California-based biotech firm working on lymphoma treatment. AstraZeneca, which has its U.S. headquarters in the Wilmington suburbs, would acquire TeneoTwo, which is testing its drug TNB-486 in relapsed and refractory […]
WILMINGTON – Lisa Schmidt, a longtime corporate litigator, has taken over as president of Richards, Layton & Finger (RLF), the largest law firm in Delaware with more than 160 attorneys. Headquartered in downtown Wilmington near Rodney Square, RLF is a sought-after firm that advises global companies, business partnerships, leading financial institutions, local businesses, and individuals […]
WILMINGTON – The developer and future operator of the new boutique hotel on Market Street unveiled its first look this week at the project scheduled to open later this summer. Owned by prolific local developer Buccini/Pollin Group, the future hotel at 519 Market St. will be named The Quoin, according to Method Co., the Philadelphia-based […]
DOVER – Gov. John Carney signed a nearly $5.1 billion operating budget for the state on June 28, which marks the state’s largest in history. The operating budget, approved by state lawmakers as Senate Bill 250, includes pay increases for state employees, including 2% to 9% increases for all merit employees and increases for public […]
NEWARK – Delaware State Tourism Director Elizabeth Keller has been selected to succeed Jennifer Kmiec as executive director of the Committee of 100, a non-partisan, nonprofit association of Delaware business leaders that works to promote responsible economic development and address issues that affect the state’s economic health. Keller will assume her new position on July […]
NEWARK – The Lycra Company, a major textile company that supplies the apparel and personal care industries, has been acquired by a group of private equity investors following a troubled period for the company. Headquartered off Red Mill Road near Newark, Lycra has been operating under a receivership process that began in February after its […]
DOVER – President Joe Biden nominated Delaware Supreme Court Justice Tamika Montgomery-Reeves on Wednesday for a vacancy on the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Montgomery-Reeves, who ascended to the state’s highest court in 2019 after serving for four years on the influential Court of Chancery, would fill the seat left by Judge D. […]
NEWARK – The green hydrogen startup Versogen will be returning to its Newark roots in a $4.8 million expansion that will add dozens of new jobs. The firm, which grew out of research by University of Delaware professor Yushan Yan, will be relocating from its current labs at The Innovation Space at DuPont’s Experimental Station […]
[caption id="attachment_224253" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The Wilmington Country Club is preparing to host more than 100,000 spectators over four days during the PGA Tour's BMW Championship. | PHOTO COURTESY OF WGA[/caption]
WILMINGTON – Delaware has never hosted a top-flight PGA Tour event, but that is about to change in a few weeks as the BMW Championship arrives at the Wilmington Country Club, bringing tens of thousands of spectators to northern Delaware.It’s a week that tourism and economic development officials have been anxiously awaiting for nearly two years since the host organization, the Western Golf Association, publicly announced its pick in November 2020.Last year, an estimated 130,000 spectators attended the four days of play at the BMW Championship, leaving a more than $30 million economic impact in their wake at Caves Valley Golf Course, less than two hours away in Maryland. Officials expect to eclipse those figures this year.
[caption id="attachment_224255" align="alignleft" width="300"] Vince Pellegrino, vice president of tournaments at the Western Golf Association, speaks during a June media day event for the BMW Championship. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
The WGA said tickets are so far selling 20% ahead of last year for the four-day tournament that runs Aug. 18-21, with several days of practice beforehand. At least 150 companies have already purchased corporate hospitality options, including a mix of tickets, parking, private seating and dining, priced from $700 a ticket to larger packages at up to $290,000, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. The inventory of 60 skyboxes, priced at $60,000 or more, have also sold out.Tickets to the BMW Championship have become a hot commodity in the area in part because it’s the first time the PGA Tour has played at the bucolic Wilmington Country Club off Kennett Pike near the Pennsylvania state border. It will be the largest golf tournament held here since the LPGA moved its McDonald's LPGA Championship from the nearby DuPont Country Club in 2004 after a 17-year run there.“We’re Delaware. We don't get Super Bowls. This is our Super Bowl,” New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer recently told Delaware Business Times at a media day event previewing the tournament.Gov. John Carney agreed, saying he was excited for the arrival of the A-10 Women’s Basketball Championship and the G-League Championship game at the Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington, but the PGA Tour event would be a whole new level of national exposure.“Having these golfers come in is just a really big deal for us,” he said. “Tourism is a big part of our economy and there's going to be an opportunity for so many people to see the Jackie Kennedy exhibit just down the street (at Winterthur Museum and Gardens) and to enjoy our great restaurants and the things happening now. It's going to be really exciting.”
[caption id="attachment_224256" align="alignright" width="300"] The Wilmington Country Club will host a PGA Tour event for the first time with the BMW Championship, and tickets are selling fast. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
Most of the hotel rooms in downtown Wilmington have been blocked out for months ahead of the tournament that is the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs, with the top 70 ranked golfers being invited to play at Wilmington Country Club and the top 30 earning a spot in the final. The tournament will be nationally televised on NBC, bringing hundreds of golfers, PGA staff and media to Delaware.Jen Boes, executive director of the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, said her organization was buying geo-fencing online ads to direct visitors toward local attractions outside of the tournament. A new digital coupon book will also get event spectators discounted entry to other places of interest or specials at local restaurants.“We are now moving out of COVID and we're super excited for the business and the traffic it's going to bring to the entire New Castle County. People are going to be looking for things to see and do and places to eat when the tournament wraps for the day,” she said.The road to the PGA Tour wasn’t easy for Wilmington Country Club, as its review by tour officials was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. After passing the initial review, a tornado in 2020 tore through the golf course, downing more than 300 trees. In some cases, that drastically changed how a professional golfer may approach a hole.As luck may have it, the country club had recently hired renowned golf course architect Andrew Green to come redesign the North Course. Following the storm, the club asked Green to remedy the South Course to the PGA’s needs. He moved bunkers and greens to utilize the space and challenge pros who routinely hit shots farther than the average golfer.“Andrew, you're our MVP because we were in trouble, and you saved the day,” said Tom Humphrey, chair of the local tournament committee and a club member.While the players will be competing for a $15 million purse – up more than 50% over last year, and set to rise to $20 million next year amid competition from the upstart LIV Golf Tour – the revenue raised by the BMW Championship will benefit youth caddies nationwide pay for college through the Evans Scholars Foundation. One such caddy is Wilmington Country Club’s Frank Yocum, of Garnet Valley, Pa., who said attending Penn State University would have been difficult with the full tuition from the Evans Scholars as he is a quadruplet.Although the PGA Tour has never played at Wilmington Country Club, there are some ties that bind at play. Ed “Porky” Oliver, a tour pro from Wilmington in the ‘40s and ‘50s, started as a caddy at Wilmington Country Club when he was just 11 years old.Oliver would become an accomplished player, finishing second in three majors, losing twice to Hall of Fame golfer Ben Hogan. But he also won the 1941 Western Open tournament, which was the predecessor to today’s BMW Championship.When the Wilmington Country Club moved to its current location in 1962, it donated its original course in Greenville to the city of Wilmington, which renamed it the Ed Oliver Golf Club in the late golfer’s honor. It continues to operate under the same name today.