By Van Mitchell
Special to The Sun
The Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport Board was updated Tuesday about plans for the 2014 United States Golf Association Senior Open to be at Oak Tree National Golf Course in Edmond and what role the airport could play in the event.
Jeff Ewing, championship director for the USGA event scheduled for July 7-13, 2014, told the board the tournament is being marketed by Bruno Events, a full-service marketing agency based in Birmingham, Ala.
He told the board the event is expected to attract between 130,000 and 140,000 people and have a significant economic impact on the Oklahoma City metro area.
“The Senior Open is the largest Champions Tour event with 156 golfers,” Ewing said. “It’s a big event. It will have an estimated $13 million in economic impact.”
This will be the second USGA event at Oak Tree National. It hosted the 1984 U.S. Amatuer Championship won by Scott Verplank who resides in Edmond and played collegiately at Oklahoma State University before beginning his PGA career. Oak Tree National also hosted the 1988 PGA Championship and the 2006 Senior PGA Championship.
Ewing said to put the events in perspective the 1988 PGA Championship had 1,600 volunteers and the 2014 USGA event will require 3,000 volunteers.
Ewing said he was interested in working with GERA to see if it could be utilized as a destination airport. He said he would need to get an outline of how big the airport is, what utilities and what services are available.
“I need to have a good understanding of your capabilities,” Ewing said. “I need to have an overview of what you have. We have a great partnership started with Edmond and obviously Guthrie is part of this as well. By all means I want to promote something like this and make sure you get an opportunity for some of the traffic that is coming.”
GERA airport manager Justin Heid said he would create an overview of what the airport has to offer and send it to Ewing.
“I think we can make a lot of this work,” Heid said.
Ewing said he was looking forward to working with GERA to promote the event.
“We are expecting big things,” Ewing said. “I think the world will be watching. We want to make this a showcase for the future (events in Oklahoma). We want to knock this one out of the park. We are excited to be here.”
In other action, Heid updated the board through his airport manager’s report. He stated construction is continuing in the Northwest development area and construction is scheduled to start Jan. 14 in the new corporate hangar area.
Heid added that Zivco has nearly completed work on its hangar and Herman Hogue and Stan Young are preparing their site for a new hangar. Heid said that Greg Mills is submitting his application to build a 50x50 hangar and Buz Holloway would like to build an eight-unit T-hangar.
Heid said there had been no wildlife issues last month and the USDA has performed a check on the airport for bird, coyote and deer populations. He added the Guthrie Edmond Aviation Association (GEAA) had “Santa’s fly-in” on Dec. 23.
“It was a huge success with over 300 people attending and 115 children visiting Santa,” Heid said.
In other action, Guthrie City Manager Sereniah Breland said a workshop will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 15 at Guthrie City Hall to discuss GERA Airport Trust plans. The workshop includes discussion with city council members and members of the GERA board.
In other matters, Guthrie board member Joe Underwood told the board that plans for adding another bathroom at the airport have been flushed because of costs.
He said Guthrie resident Frank Bross has offered to put a bathroom in his hangar and it would cost between $6,000 and $9,000 in exchange for lease agreements.
But since the airport is on city property any bathroom would have to meet federal Americans with Disability Act compliance and that would push the cost to $15,000 or beyond.
“The project is dead in the water because of the expense,” Underwood said. “It was a good idea and really needed.”