Wednesday, March 03, 1999

Warren thrives on tourism

New golf course is another attraction

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — An Arnold Palmer-designed Tournament Players Club (TPC) golf course planned for Hamilton Township will augment Warren County's reputation as one of Ohio's tourism hot spots.

        “It adds to the array we already have,” Commissioner Pat South said Tuesday. “Warren County has quickly become known for all its tournaments.”

        The TPC at River's Bend in Hamilton Township is a virtual cinch to host stops on the PGA Tour or the Senior PGA Tour, given that all but two of the 16 active TPC courses host one of those events, PGA officials said Tuesday.

        Ground is to be broken at River's Bend in two weeks. It is to open in early 2001, staffed by PGA and TPC employees.

        Warren County already is host to the Kroger Senior Classic, a Senior PGA Tour event; the American Jumping Classic, an equestrian event; and the Great American Insurance ATP Championship. The tennis tournament alone generates $20 million in local spending, from hotels and restaurants to marketing and producing the event.

        Tourism is the county's second-leading industry, behind agriculture. In 1996, tourism generated $16.58 million in state and local tax revenue, according to the county's convention and visitors bureau statistics. During peak season, as many as 10,000 people are employed in the industry.

        In addition to tournaments, the county has big-name draws to thank for boosting the tourism industry. More than 3 million people visited Paramount's Kings Island in Mason in 1997; The Beach, the Renaissance Festival in Harveysburg and the Sauerkraut Festival in Waynesville drew 600,000.

        County officials don't expect the tourists — or the developments — to stop.

        “Cincinnati and Dayton are growing together, and they're growing together through Warren County,” said Bob Price, the county's administrator. “I guess it's location, location, location.”

        The area's scenery may also have attracted the PGA, Mrs. South said. The 476-acre site at Ohio 48 and Ohio 150, north of Maineville, is an “absolutely beautiful setting,” she said. The western edge of the project borders the Little Miami River, and the gently rolling land is full of mature trees, she said.

        In addition to the golf course, plans call for the development of more than 1,200 residential units.

        John Harris, president of the Mason/Landen Kings Chamber of Commerce, said he is excited about the new PGA course and its positive impact on not only Warren County's economy but also the Tristate's.

        “It will undoubtably bring more housing and more up scale development to the area,” said Mr. Harris, who is also Warren County's representative for the Metropolitan Growth Alliance, the area's pro-regionalism group. “It will bring up the whole economy of southern Warren County,” Mr. Harris said.

        He said, however, that it is too early to speculate on the dollar amounts the new course and ancillary developments might bring to the county.

        He described the new course and club as adding to Warren County's reputation as “Cincinnati's playground” with Paramount's Kings Island, The Beach and the ATP tournament and facility.

        “This will blend right into it. And it will add to the overall attractiveness of the Cincinnati region,” he said.


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