Ardmore rolling out red carpet for U.S. Open fans

May 31, 2013 4:39:35 PM PDT
Two weeks from today, they'll be playing the second round of the U.S. Open Golf Tournament at the Merion Golf Club.

While the best golfers in the world are dropping putts on the greens of Merion, the merchants in Ardmore are hoping golf fans drop plenty of green right here.

Ardmore is puttin' on the Ritz, dressing up for the big dance. New welcome banners and flowers are everywhere.

It's estimated the U.S. Open will pump upwards of $150 million into the Delaware Valley economy.

"If we get $10 million of that, and that's just a guess, we would be terribly, terribly happy," said Kimberly Gunning, co-president of the Ardmore Business Association.

The flurry of activity at the Merion Golf Club gives a hint of what lies ahead.

Hospitality tents are crowding every available patch of real estate. Private homes adjacent to Merion have rented out their front yards - all of it setting the stage for a worldwide audience.

25,000 spectators a day will make their way to Merion. Ardmore Ambassadors will be handing them pocket guides and maps to the downtown business district.

"So that folks who are looking to get out of the sun and sit in a cool place and have a nice cocktail after watching a round of golf will know how to get here," said Christine Vilardo, executive director of the Ardmore Initiative.

Carlino's Italian Market is an Ardmore institution. It's one of the many businesses hoping to cash in on the Open. They're building a new patio for outdoor dining to accomodate what they hope will be a big lunch crowd.

Even with the Open still more than a week away, they've already gotten a boost.

"Our catering business has increased already. It's because everybody's been having parties, barbeques, outdoor gatherings. They're impressing their friends from all over the country and the world," Nick Carlino told Action News.

U.S. Open-associated money is already pouring into the area. It takes an army to stage an event like this, and hundreds of people have been here for weeks laying the ground work, sleeping in local hotel rooms and eating in local restaurants.

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