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Big summer events drive in big money for the region

Organizers say The Solheim Cup and Toledo Jeep Fest combined brought in about $36 million for the region.
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:15 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - This was the summer of big events in Toledo. The goal was to bring in hundreds of thousands of people with tens of millions of dollars in economic impact. But did that happen?

The attendance totals were eye-grabbing -- 130,000 at The Inverness Club for the golf tournament and another 30,000 in downtown Toledo for Fan Fest. The 2021 edition of The Solheim Cup was one for the record books, drawing the most spectators ever for the American version of the international tournament, according to this year’s tournament director Becky Newell.

“Once we designate where the tournament will be in 2024, I am sure those folks will be reaching out to us to figure out what the recipe is for the success we had here in Toledo,” Newell said.

While they’re still working on the final numbers, Newell says the economic impact was far-reaching and may end up being higher than early estimates.

“I think the economic impact will surpass the estimated $30 million for the community and the northwest Ohio region,” she said.

Newell says the cleanup effort at the course is also beating early estimates.

“I think it will take another 3-4 weeks to finish, but the fact that the Meijer Pavilion is already down blows my mind,” Newell said. “The vendors are working really hard so we can get the course back to the Inverness Club members.”

Another big summer event was Toledo Jeep Fest. The goal was to drive in about 70,000 people to the city, and organizers say that’s exactly what happened.

“So how do we know we met our attendance goal? We checked with visitor booths, attendance at the convention center, how many meals were purchased, and how many people were at the parade,” said Cindy Kerr, Vice President of ConnecToledo. “Things like that tell us the numbers.”

And she says those visitors spent millions.

“The economic impact was around $6 million, and quite frankly it was probably a little more,” Kerr said. “When Jeepers come in, they spend money. Whether it’s new Dana axels or specialized lights, they always come prepared to invest in the vendors and all of Toledo too.”

Kerr says everything that was done to improve the city for these events, from infrastructure improvements to beautification projects, will help set the stage for future investment in Toledo.

“Naysayers thought this would be a one and done. Absolutely not. We are committed as a downtown community to keep everything moving forward,” Kerr said.

Work is already underway to attract more big events. According to Kerr, one announcement we can make is that organizers plan to host Toledo Jeep Fest again next year.

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