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How Phoenix Open Could Set PGA Attendance Record During COVID-19

When the Waste Management Phoenix Open kicks off Feb. 4 at TPC Scottsdale, it’ll make attendance history. But not the way the golf tournament is used to. 

When the Phoenix Open last tracked attendance in 2018, it recorded more than 720,000 visitors. This year, the Open will have fewer than 25,000. Still the expected 5,000 per day will be the biggest since the PGA Tour returned to action last June.

“The tournament will implement strict COVID safety protocols including, but certainly not limited to, the mandatory wearing of masks throughout the entire tournament grounds and thermal screening of every guest upon entry,” Scott Jenkins, tournament chairman, said in a press release.

When it comes to the Cactus League, Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega said  the stadium where the San Francisco Giants play will look different. 

“Probably our stadium of 10,000 occupants might have just under 2,000,” he said during a Wednesday webinar hosted by Experience Scottsdale.

Ortega joined other Valley mayors, the president of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and the Cactus League and asked Major League Baseball to postpone spring training. It’s currently scheduled to start Feb. 27. 

While discussing large events in Scottsdale, Councilwoman Betty Janik said the best course of action is to follow public health protocols and to delay but not cancel events. 

“I would hope that by March we are seeing the numbers go down significantly for spread and that then we are then better able to open up all of these different activities safely,” she said.

The 66th annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show will still take place at Westworld starting Feb. 11, but physical access will be limited to riders and teams. Fans can buy day and full-event passes to watch live and recorded videos.

Councilwoman Tammy Caputi said hosting a large event in Scottsdale requires a detailed plan that city staffers must review and approve.

“We are going through those with a fine-tooth comb to make sure that it makes sense and it’s safe for everybody,” she said. “I think we can’t just shut down the city, we’ve got to find a way forward and things will keep getting better as people get vaccinated and we move through this.”

→  How Big Events In Scottsdale Are Changing This Season

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.