SCOTTSDALE – Not every PGA Tour stop would welcome its tournament coinciding with the Super Bowl.
The WM Phoenix Open embraces it.
“Adding the Super Bowl clearly adds an element of more people in town, more media in town, more eyes on our market,” said 2023 WM Phoenix Open tournament chairman Pat Williams. “The world truly will be focused on metro Phoenix this weekend.”
The tournament regularly draws the largest galleries on the PGA Tour, making it the ultimate people-watching event. And it isn’t just about golf at the TPC Scottsdale during tournament week.
Each night, fans pack into the Coors Light Bird’s Nest for concerts featuring music headliners. This year, country star Jason Aldean performs in “the Nest” on Thursday night. Machine Gun Kelly is on stage Friday. And The Chainsmokers and Gryffin headline on Saturday night.
Attractions like the Bird’s Nest, coupled with typically mild February temperatures, help the tournament hold its ground while competing with the Super Bowl – even when the game is played right across town at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.
Kickoff for the game usually coincides with the end of the tournament. Although this year’s competition is scheduled to end Sunday, in 1996, the event was played Wednesday through Saturday when the Super Bowl was held in Sun Devil Stadium.
Ryan Woodcock, director of communications for the WM Phoenix Open, said the tournament even benefits from the Super Bowl in many ways.
“It makes it easier to get big names (for the Pro-Am and other events) because they are here,” Woodcock said. “So many people in the sports, music, and celebrity industries just go wherever the Super Bowl is to be seen and participate.”
The game also draws media members and fans from across the country and the world, and the Valley has proven it can accommodate everybody for the big game and the big tournament on the same weekend.
“There’s a reason we are selected as a city to host the Super Bowl, and there’s a reason our golf tournament can host so many people,” Williams said. “We’ve got the big hotels, and we’ve got a great airport that allows people to get in and out easily from all over.”
More than 150,000 people per day are expected to fly through Sky Harbor International Airport during the big weekend, and hotel rooms in the area are extremely limited.
Those that are available are not cheap. A recent scan of hotels with rooms still available for Super Bowl weekend showed options such as the La Quinta Inn listed for more than $900 per night. The same rooms are usually about $100. Most high-end hotels in Phoenix are sold out, forcing visitors to turn to short-term rental sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo.
Hotel rooms aren’t the only hot commodity with the Super Bowl and its related events such as various celebrity parties, the NFL’s downtown Super Bowl Experience and Opening Night celebration all taking place while the Phoenix Open is also underway.
Portable toilet rentals, security personnel and rental cars are all harder to come by with the two massive sporting events falling on the same weekend in one metropolitan area.
“We have to work and collaborate together on a lot of those items,” Williams said. “Both organizations are trying to achieve similar goals and provide great experiences for the fans that come.”
Although the Phoenix Open has no trouble drawing large crowds regardless of the year, Woodcock hopes that the Super Bowl overlap may bring new fans to TPC Scottsdale.
“We might have some people who might not put coming to a golf tournament tops on their list, but if they’re in town they might say, ‘Hey, we have to check out that Phoenix Open, too,’” Woodcock said.
The tournament is far from a typical PGA Tour event. It is as much a party as a golf tournament.
Many of the nearly 750,000 fans who will pour into TPC Scottsdale throughout tournament week are not there just to politely clap for great golf shots. The tournament, which features the rowdy par-3 No.16 “Stadium hole,” is renowned for its raucous atmosphere.
Though the weekend presents some challenges for Williams, he knows hosting the Super Bowl brings additional revenue to the tournament, which has generated more than $165-million for local charities in its history, benefitting the entire Valley.
“The overall economic impact is greater when we have both events,” Williams said. “When you have more people coming to the market, the overall market impact is greater. It’s great for our entire community.”