FedEx St. Jude Championship expected to boost Memphis economy
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The City of Memphis is about to score an economic hole in one.
Tourism officials said the FedEx St. Jude Championship taking place in Memphis next week will boost a bottom line that’s already bouncing back nicely from the pandemic.
If Memphis was a car, tourism is its engine. The best year ever for the industry was 2019, generating $3.9 billion. Now, the numbers indicate the city’s going to ace the golf tournament with tourism booming in the Bluff City.
“We have sold more rooms right now than we did in 2019, which was a record year for us,” Kevin Kane, president of Memphis Tourism, said. “We are very encouraged that tourism is on the rebound, not only on the rebound, but we’ve recovered quite nicely.”
Kane said Memphis’ hotel occupancy rate is five percent higher than the national rate. And the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC at Southwind is a huge draw.
“It’s easy to say it’s going to be millions and millions and millions of dollars of economic impact,” said Kane, “because it is every year.”
The original FedEx St Jude Classic brought in $20 to $25 million each year to the Memphis economy. In 2019, the first year of the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational with the world’s top 50 players, the economic boost was $40 to $50 million.
This year’s tourney features more than 100 top golfers, with many of the same vendors returning to the green to earn some green.
Ernie Mellor, owner of Hog Wild, will be back out in The Pit, located between the 8th and 9th holes at TPC Southwind, selling BBQ nachos, brisket sandwiches, smoked catfish quesadillas, grilled pimento cheese with sweet onion jam, and smoked chicken salad on a croissant.
“I’ve been through so much,” he said, “you know when COVID hit, I was the Memphis Restaurant Association president trying to keep all the glue together and keep my business running. It’s been a true challenge the past two years. As we see normalcy, the better I feel. And we’ll cut a big piece of what we sell back to St. Jude, and we’re happy to do that. We’re big partners with St. Jude.”
It’s always fun to see the city’s landmarks, like Beale Street and Big River Crossing, on network television. The tournament, Kane said, puts Memphis on the global stage.
“We feel this tournament is going to drive room nights for us and bring a lot of people, not only regionally, but around the country. This is an important tournament,” he said, “and it’ll be great to see spectators back.”
Mellor couldn’t agree more. He predicts the gritty little city on the Big Muddy will tee off to new heights in 2022.
“The people at the tournament are from everywhere, which is just totally fun,” he said, “and it’s a great economic engine for the city; it’s important, for sure. And I think we’re going to crush it.”
The city coffers will also get a hefty chunk of revenue from Elvis Week, which is also taking place next week. Fans will celebrate the 45th anniversary of the King’s passing and the 40th anniversary of the opening of Graceland.
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