Marana’s new Steak Out Restaurant and Saloon opened Monday, just in time for the World Golf Championships Accenture Match Play Tournament.
Sporting wagon wheels, rusted metal and leather saddles, the restaurant at the intersection of West Tangerine and North Thornydale roads aims to appeal to crowds of tourists who show up for the big event.
“I hope we get Tiger Woods here,” said Michael Wystrach Sr., the owner of the restaurant in Sonoita with the same name. “I have a fantastic photograph I would like him to autograph.”
The whole town of Marana stands to benefit from the tournament at Dove Mountain, which will air for 28 hours on television in more than 180 countries. The tournament is in its third year of a four-year contract; the 2010 match play event is already booked for Feb. 15-21 at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain.
“The first four years we have viewed as proving ourselves to be a good partner and making sure it comes off without hitches,” Town Manager Gilbert Davidson said. “Once we have the Ritz-Carlton in operation and the town has an economic roadmap for the future, we will be in a good place to meet companies and tell them what we have to offer.”
Immediate effects of the championship should include increased business for the hospitality industry, said Wade Dunagan, the executive director of the PGA tourney. Although economic impact studies have yet to be completed, Dunagan said, “there are thousands of people who come into town, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and shop into our stores.”
Not only do crowds show up in Marana for the tournament itself, Dunagan said, some people visit the area long after the tournament has passed to claim a connection to the event, which attracts 35 million television viewers each year.
“One thing that happens is that there is a trickle down from people who want to see where it was played,” he said.
Marana Mayor Ed Honea pointed out that Marana’s mild winters and beautiful mountain backdrops give the town a good image on television in February.
“When people are six feet deep in show and freezing to death, they’re going to see us in light shirts with beautiful mountains in the background,” Honea said. “I think it’s just good advertising for not only Marana but the entire region.”
Honea pointed out that CEOs of large companies attend the championship. Some, he said, might leave Marana with a desire to bring their companies to the area. Others might leave wanting to book a future stay at the Ritz-Carlton resort.
“I think we’re going to see lots of these corporate players who come here for the tournament say ‘that’s a great place to take boards or stockholders for a winter retreat,’” he said.
The championship brings charity dollars to Southern Arizona through the Tucson Conquistadores, a volunteer organization that benefits youth sports organizations specializing in disadvantaged or handicapped youth.
“We’re hoping to raise in excess of a million dollars this year for them,” Dunagan said.
Marana Town Councilwoman Carol McGorray thinks this year’s tournament will top the previous three in ticket sales. An avid golfer, McGorray has played the new Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course and was impressed by its spectator-friendly design. The fact that Marana has such an impressive feature, she said, is evidence that the town is moving forward.
“We’re growing up,” she said. “We’re reaching a new plateau.”