Residents of semirural Chaska will have a front-row seat for Ryder Cup festivities — whether they want one or not.
The suburb 25 miles southwest of Minneapolis must make room for 10 times its current population this week as outsiders arrive for the tournament at Hazeltine National Golf Club, which pits Europe vs. America.
Locals are gathering downtown in the evenings for city-sponsored events, attending Ryder Cup-themed block parties and hobnobbing with tourists from around the world. Some who live along the course are watching from homemade viewing stands — built in their backyards to help them see over the fences. Teenagers are working concession stands to raise money for sports and other activities.
The tournament takes place Friday through Sunday and is projected by promoters to bring $135 million to the Twin Cities area, though it’s too early to say how much it will cost government to support it. The Ryder Cup is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world, and most Chaskans say they’re eager to see their city of 25,000 elevated to a global stage.
“The community has really embraced this event. They’re excited,” said Scott Knight, Chaska’s police chief.
But residents say playing host to what Knight calls “the biggest sporting event that Minnesota will ever see” has its drawbacks.
Even before Friday’s first tee times, some residents have been annoyed by the traffic and strict security measures, like blocked-off neighborhoods and bans on walking and bicycling near the course.
Comments about what it’s like to live in the shadow of the tournament have spilled onto Facebook.
“People keep talking about all the prestige this event brings,” resident Kim McBride wrote in response to a reporter’s question on a social networking site. “Great — how does prestige pay the bills?”
Classes have had to be canceled for the week, with two schools in the district on Pioneer Trail, across the street from Hazeltine. And organizers are renting Chaska High School to store Ryder Cup merchandise.
But some wonder why a golf tournament has more power than many snowstorms.
“It’s stupid the kids got out of school for it,” Niki Johnson wrote on the Facebook page called “Real Life in Chaska.”
Some families skipped town to avoid the chaos, heading to the cabin or to the Bahamas.
But Nicole Domeier wrote that the hassles were “a small price to pay” to land such a mammoth event in her small town.
Chaska and Hazeltine have been a national draw before. The notoriously difficult golf course designed for national championships hosted the PGA Championships in 2002 and 2009, and the U.S. Amateur tournament in 2006.
This is the first time Adidas has named a limited-edition, $220 golf shoe after the city, however.
Even churches are getting the golf bug.
“Need a mulligan? Let Jesus tee it up,” reads a sign at the Valley Evangelical Free Church on Engler Boulevard.
Open for business
City Administrator Matt Podhradsky said that during past national tournaments, local businesses didn’t fare as well as they’d hoped. Shuttles ferried the crowds from Hazeltine straight to parking lots in Shakopee, he said. This year, buses will go to downtown Chaska.
The city, with the help of the SouthWest Metro Chamber of Commerce, organized two promotions to keep people in town. So-called “19th Hole” events taking place all week include music in Firemen’s Park, a curling game featuring the Norwegian and American Olympic teams, historic walking tours, outdoor movies and fireworks.
Meanwhile, downtown businesses are pitching a promotion called “18 Holes of Chaska,” where shoppers get a card stamped for every business they visit and are then entered in a drawing.
Still, skeptics remain.
“I highly doubt any event attendees will stick around,” resident SheyAnne Alvarado wrote on Facebook. “The Twin Cities will reap the benefits.”
But Brad Diedrick, owner of the Chaska Laundry Center, wrote that his business has already profited from the outsiders. He nabbed contracts to wash caddie towels and laundry from the security team.
The Crooked Pint Ale House got an unexpected boost Tuesday when rain drove hundreds of raucous, would-be picnickers — many sporting red Ryder Cup gear — into the bar-restaurant attached to the Curling Center and event center downtown.
Waitress Katherine Surbaugh, who sent her children to Florida this week, described the scene as “a good mayhem.”
“Today we got our butts kicked,” Surbaugh said.
At previous Hazeltine events, national TV announcers failed to mention Chaska, instead referring to a generic Twin Cities suburb. City officials say they’ve brought it up with PGA officials for years, and they agreed to do better.
Yet Joel Phillips said the Golf Channel is still referring to the tournament site as “a golf course outside [of] Minneapolis.”
“This is Chaska, Minnesota,” Phillips wrote on Facebook. “We are our own community.”