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Hospitality at the U.S. Open will have a Wisconsin flavor

So, maybe you’ve always fantasized about being a player, a big shmimigriffin-erin-hillsot, a high roller.

Perhaps then you’d love an opportunity to treat your longtime star employees to a special day in the sun. Or pamper a treasured client or loyal business partner. Or impress a prospective client.

If so, then Mimi Griffin may have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you. She’s in charge of selling corporate hospitality packages for the 2017 U.S. Open Championship, which will be held for the first time in Wisconsin at Erin Hills June12-18.

“This is the Super Bowl of golf,” said Griffin, president and chief executive officer of MSG Promotions, which is based in Allentown, Pa. “We will have hospitality options for the Fortune 500 companies in Wisconsin and options for smaller businesses too.”

The highest rollers of them all can rent out a large “platinum premier” corporate hospitality tent around the green of the 18th hole to treat up to 125 guests over the course of the tournament. The price tag: $325,000.

The next-best option is a “platinum” hospitality tent for 100 guests around the green of the ninth hole. The price tag: $235,000.

Other options range from corporate suites to tables on the grounds.

Griffin said the opportunity to “schmooze” with guests at the U.S. Open is unlike any other venue.

“Tthe-lodgehis venue provides you with incredible opportunities for meaningful conversations over the course of several hours and days,” Griffin said. “This is something you can’t get with a general admission ticket. It will be a true corporate experience. It will provide great views of the course.”

Griffin expects to attract 200 to 300 corporate clients from across the nation. They’re coming to Erin Hills this month to be carted around by Griffin and her staff, so they can choose the precise location and size of their hospitality tents.

“It gives our Wisconsin clients an opportunity to have exposure with companies from all over,” Griffin said.

Irgens, a Milwaukee-based commercial real estate development firm, is renting a suite on the fairway of the 10th hole for the week. Such a suite is listed by the United States Golf Association (USGA) with a price tag of $127,250.

“We are proud and excited to commit to this premier international event and to help show off the beauty of the Wisconsin landscape. The 10th fairway suite package is unique for the event in its premier location and orientation to viewing of multiple holes,” said David Arnold, executive vice president of Irgens. “Our tent space accommodates 30 guests per day for the entirety of practice, tournament and championship rounds.”

Why would the company make such an investment?

“We have many terrific partners, including investors, lenders, tenants, current, past and future clients as well as key brokers, lenders and other vendors of all types, all of whom are supportive of Irgens and we value greatly,” Arnold said. “We like to show our appreciation of the Irgens family of business relationships who help us on a day-in day-out basis to create value in the communities we serve.”

The corporate tents will be elevated to offer views from above the galleries of the masses, Griffin said.

Renters of the corporate tents can customize their areas, picking from selections of furniture, table cloths, colors to match their brands, television monitors. … And perhaps most important, the foods and drinks that will be served to their guests.

That’s where Susan Lacz, principal and CEO of Ridgewells Catering of Bethesda, Md., comes in. Lacz has been in charge of catering for the U.S. Open since 1993.

susan-laczLacz says the U.S. Open cuisine is different every year and reflects the cuisine native to the local venue. So, the 2017 cuisine will be heavy on cheese, sausage, beer, cranberries and baked goods, Lacz said. While such treats might just seem like standard weekend fare for Wisconsin residents, they will be exquisite delights for the thousands of folks traveling to the tournament from other states, she said.

“We buy locally. We research the area,” Lacz said, adding that her recent taste-testing at Erin Hills produced her first samplings of cruller pastries, Braunschweiger sausage and New Glarus Spotted Cow beer.

“I’m lobbying for cheese curds,” said Eric Steimer, manager of the 2017 U.S. Open for USGA.

Steimer, a native of Cincinnati, moved to Wisconsin in 2015 to begin planning for the tournament. He refers to his job as “building a city at Erin Hills.”

The USGA expects to sell 35,000 tickets per day at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills. It also will dole out 15,000 credentials, including passes for 5,000 volunteers and 2,000 media members.

“We build a city that’s operational 24-7 for seven days to maximize that spectator experience,” Steimer said.

Steimer estimates the U.S. Open will have a total economic impact of $130 million to $140 million for southeastern Wisconsin. That will include lodging, food, drinks, entertainment, transportation and more.

Owners of homes near Erin Hills, which is about three miles due west of the Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, have already begun renting their houses to golf fans for that week.

Steimer said owners of homes within a five-mile radius of Erin Hills can expect to be able to charge rents of $5,000 to $8,000 for the week of the tournament.

“In the end, I think the most unique thing we’re going to offer is Erin Hills,” said Griffin, who has been handling corporate hospitality for the U.S. Open since 1995. “This is a jewel. You come here, and you are taken into another world. It is so incredibly beautiful.”

October 22, 2016 | By Steve Jagler, business editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel