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WM Phoenix Open preparing for record crowds with Tiger and Super Bowl in town

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SCOTTSDALE – Only a year after setting the total attendance record at the Phoenix Waste Management Open, tournament officials are expecting to see that historic mark topped once more when play concludes this Sunday.

The anticipated surge can be attributed to the traffic brought in from the Super Bowl, which is being held locally in Glendale, and the return of Tiger Woods, who has not played at the event since 2001.

“It’s the excitement of the crowd that brings everybody here,” said Larry Chaffin, a 13-year employee at the Waste Management Open. “It’s a great tournament to watch golf, and if you’re just here for the good times, that’s here too.”

Preparation for the event began as soon as last year’s tournament ended, with the upcoming Super Bowl weekend in mind. The vendors and distributors have been planning and stocking up ever since.

The event’s primary caterer, Michael’s, will be sending trucks to the tournament’s site at the Tournament Players Club in Scottsdale more frequently than in the past to accommodate for the weekend’s increased concessions demand.

Merchandise sales are also expected to be on the rise. Tiffany Nelson, Senior Business Development Director for the tournament, anticipates that the boost in attendance will have a direct impact on merchandise profit. The facility has expanded to have three shop locations positioned across the course to help handle the record crowd.

The tournament’s sales will include more than just shirts and hats, most of which will be branded with the event’s logo. Fans can buy anything from tumbler cups to specialized bags, as well as golf attire and equipment, all of which is Nike-sponsored.

With so many fans expected to be out on the course for the event’s two biggest days, Friday and Saturday, there is growing concern over the weather forecast, which is currently calling for an 80 percent chance of rain on Friday.

If weather were to dampen the numbers for attendance, the concession vendors wouldn’t be completely out of luck. Michael’s has the capability to preserve food beyond the day of its preparation, according to Tim Woods, one of the TPC’s assistant chairmen tasked with organizing food and concessions.

There could even be some upside amidst the rain clouds. Cold-weather clothing, such as jackets and raincoats, see an uptick in sales during unseasonably nippy weather.

“If the weather kind of gets chilly, it does help us,” Nelson said. “But we don’t want it to downpour, because then it affects the attendance. So you kind of walk that fine line.”

The tournament begins on Thursday.