Last year’s 3M Open was a thrilling tournament decided in dramatic fashion on the final hole. It was played before crowds of 20,000 to 30,000 each day. This year, organizers are hoping for more exciting golf, but fans will have to watch on TV. A plan proposed to the Governor’s office to have reduced crowds of no more than 6,000 people a day on the course didn’t work out.
Blaine city officials say the lack of spectators is unfortunate for hotels and restaurants that have already been hurting. Last month, National Sports Center staff cancelled its slate of events, including USA Cup, the soccer tournament that brought hundreds of teams from around the world and the same size economic impact as the 3M Open to Blaine.
But even without fans walking the course, there is important public relations value in hosting an international sporting event. And with sports fans hungry for live events, TV ratings are expected to be high.
“We very well could be the only live sport in Minnesota this summer,” said Welch. “We’re going to put on a really good TV show this year for 3M and for the fans of Minnesota.”
Even with schedule changes, the hope is to bring some of the world’s top golf talent to Blaine.
“We feel good about what our field is going to be. We will have 4 to 5 of the top golfers in the world in the tournament. That’s going to be awesome.”
Even without spectators, organizers are planning ways to raise money for charity. Last year, the 3M Open Fund donated more than $1.5 million to Minnesota non-profit organizations.
Individual ticket purchases made through Ticketmaster will be automatically refunded within the next 30 days.