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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 06:00 GMT 07:00 UK
Long game for Ryder Cup tees off
Gareth Jones
By Gareth Jones
BBC Wales business editor

Celtic Manor Resort
The 2010 Ryder Cup will be held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport
There's a huge amount of excitement at the moment if you mention the Ryder Cup in certain Welsh circles.

So much so you would think this, one of the world's biggest sporting events, was happening in Wales this week, rather than at the K Club outside Dublin.

A big team of officials and consultants has been amassed to pilot the route towards hosting the event at Newport's Celtic Manor Resort in 2010.

By then close to 50m will have been spent by Welsh Assembly Government bodies on the preparations.

Some of that cash will be spent this week having a large presence in Ireland.

Some 25 people will be there from so-called "Team Wales": officials from the assembly, local authorities and other bodies which have an interest in promoting the nation among investors, tour operators and anyone else who'll listen.

Sir Terry Matthews
Billionaire Sir Terry Matthews is behind Wales' Ryder Cup win

The Welsh have a great opportunity in Ireland, as it's traditional to make a fuss of the Ryder Cup's next hosts.

So the assembly government's taking 225 guests to the three-day event. These are people from blue-chip companies, tourism and celebrities.

The festivities will include a Wales Golf Day and a gala dinner attended by Welsh Enterprise Minister Andrew Davies, Irish politicians and business people.

But will all this effort and public money pay off for what is just a one-off, three-day tournament? Calvin Jones, of Cardiff's Business School is not so sure.

He said: "I don't think it'll do for us what the FA Cup has done for Cardiff. Newport's so close to the English border, it'll be a challenge to make sure the benefits are captured mainly for Wales.'

Ryder Cup Wales, which is organising the event here, sees it differently.

Graham Moore, one of its board members, said that despite being a brief tournament, it attracted 150,000 people and a huge worldwide audience. Most importantly, he said, golf attracted business people.

He said: "Potential investors from all over the world will be descending on Newport for the Cup. We'll get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to persuade them to do future business in Newport and Wales."

Golf
Golf is seen as a way of putting Wales on the tourist map

With the eyes of the golfing/business world on Newport, there'll also be a rare chance to showcase globally the city and Wales as a destination for tourism. So making sure the event goes off without any hitches will be vital.

Ensuring Newport looks its best will also be important. By 2010, some 400m, most of it from the private sector, will have been spent on transforming Newport's dilapidated centre.

This makeover was planned well before the Ryder Cup came on the scene, but the 2010 date is now providing a deadline and a catalyst for the work.

Redevelopment

John Burrows, who as chief executive of Newport Unlimited is spearheading the redevelopment of the city, said the area was already benefiting from the cup.

"Film crews from US networks have been here to look around. People are already coming to the Celtic Manor Resort to play the course and they'll be coming after the tournament too.

"They're staying in hotels and creating demand for products and services. And Valderrama proves the tournament's not a flash in the pan - Americans are still visiting the place, playing golf there in big numbers nine years after the Spaniards hosted the cup."

So the golf may be a three-day wonder, but it is the long game that matters. And officials believe they have already made a good start.




SEE ALSO
City prepares for golf fan influx
05 Jan 06 |  South East Wales
Ryder bid 'was upped by 15m'
30 Sep 01 |  Wales

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