While the Twins and other local pro sports teams hope to bring fans back to the stands starting in April, the 3M Open, too, envisions holding its PGA Tour event, lucrative pro-ams and a limited number of paying spectators in Blaine come late July.
Tournament executive director Hollis Cavner is hopeful 10,000 people — corporate-box patrons, paying fans, staff and workers — per day will attend the third 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities after last summer's event was a made-for-TV production that didn't allow spectators because of a global pandemic.
The Twins proposed to state officials a plan that would allow 10,000 fans per game this season. The 3M Open won't submit its proposals or have discussions with Gov. Tim Walz's office and state agencies until April.
Cavner said he expects by July the 3M Open will follow its PGA Tour that began to welcome fans back in Phoenix earlier in February and will continue to do so beginning next week with its Florida swing.
"The Twins are going back, everybody will start going back," Cavner said. "Everybody knows we have to get back to living."
Cavner said the 3M Open's pro-ams are sold out and called sales for them and corporate partners the "best year we've had since we started" with the first 3M Open in 2019. Rookie Matthew Wolff won that year. Veteran Michael Thompson won last summer.
Many of the corporate tents sold that first year will be open-air structures that allow physical distancing in 2021.
"People want to get back and be entertained," Cavner said. "They're tired of being cooped up and told they can't do things … Golf is outside, over a big area. Everybody is saying if they want to entertain, this is where they want to do it."
General-public ticket sales begin this spring, Cavner said.
The tournament's detailed proposals will include mandatory masks, temperature checks and on-site testing for the coronavirus virus among players, caddies and staff three times that week. Cavner said he expects the number of people vaccinated by the time the tournament is played July 23-26 will "make a huge difference" in safely bringing back spectators.
His Pro Links Sports event-management company operates four PGA Tour and three PGA Tour Champions events. It presented the World Golf Championship-Mexico City the past four years until the PGA Tour assumed operations and moved it to Bradenton, Fla., this week just for 2021 because of COVID complications involved holding a tournament in Mexico.