A record-breaking crowd of 237,750 is attending The 148th Open at Royal Portrush, setting an attendance record for a championship staged outside St Andrews in Scotland.
One report suggests the event could be worth £120m to Northern Ireland. This year’s attendance surpasses the crowd of 235,000 who attended Royal Birkdale in 2017 and the 237,000 mark set at St Andrews in 2015, making it the second largest championship ever.
Martin Slumber, chief executive of the Royal & Ancient, organisers of The Open, said yesterday: “The 148th Open [at Portrush] has not only been a sell out, but I can confirm to you that this week will see our biggest attendance outside of St Andrews, with 237,750 spectators, which surpasses the 235,000 we saw at Birkdale in 2017. So this [Portrush] becomes the second highest attended Open Championship of all time.”
He added: “I said last year that big-time sport needs big-time crowds and we certainly have that at Royal Portrush as we stage the biggest sporting event ever to be held in Northern Ireland. The eyes of the sporting world are firmly set on Royal Portrush.”
Tourism NI forecasted that The Open would bring £80m into Northern Ireland. However, a report by Sheffield Hallam University said the competition at Carnoustie last year drew in £120m into Scotland.
The university’s Sport Industry Research Centre found that the event itself, which attracted a record 172,000 fans, delivered an economic benefit of £69m.
However, the report also found it brought in a further £51m in destination marketing, due to the fact that it was broadcast to more than 600m households in 193 countries worldwide.