PGA Tour, Detroit Grand Prix go head-to-head next May

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News
The PGA moved up the Rocket Mortgage Classic by a month next summer so it doesn't compete with coverage of the Summer Olympics.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic will go head-to-head with the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix in the city next May.

The PGA's decision to move the golf tournament at the Detroit Golf Club a month earlier to May 28-31 means it will overlap with Grand Prix racing on Belle Isle scheduled for May 29-31. 

That also means competition for hotel rooms and restaurant reservations, especially downtown. And it puts a squeeze on the handful of local vendors hired for each event. The two events culminate with a Sunday final, which would create a quandary for fans of both sports.

Each sports event draws an estimated 100,000 spectators, and each is televised nationally.

More:Olympics pushes 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic to earlier spot on PGA Tour calendar

Officials from both events played up the positive aspects.

"If anything, we are exploring ways to collaborate with the Grand Prix rather than viewing them as competition," said Jason Langwell, executive director of the Detroit golf event.

Bud Denker, Detroit Grand Prix chairman, said: "The city is the one that really benefits. The publicity we will get and the economic impact could be great."

The PGA Tour said the date change was due to the Summer Olympics scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9 next year.

Rocket Mortgage Classic officials didn't have much choice in the decision, said Langwell. He added it will be a one-year change and that future Detroit tournaments will be closer to the late June dates of this year. 

The two events are held in different parts of Detroit. In terms of police and security, Michigan State Police is the main law enforcement agency for the Grand Prix because Belle Isle is managed by the state of Michigan. Detroit Police is the main law enforcement agency for the golf tournament. 

The Grand Prix this year "filled up" the downtown hotel rooms, Denker said. The Rocket Mortgage Classic booked rooms both in the city and suburbs, mainly for the 156 pro golfers, Langwell said. 

"I think this provides great opportunities for suburban hotels," Langwell said. And it could push some fans to hotels in Windsor, Denker said.

The chairman of the Detroit Grand Prix says the city will benefit with the Rocket Mortgage Classic being held the same week as the race next year.

Beyond downtown hotels, there should be rooms available in the Metro Detroit area, based on occupancy rates in previous years, said Michael O'Callaghan, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.

 "Last May we had about a 68% occupancy rate," he said. The inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic didn't have a "significant impact" on hotel room bookings, he said. 

Both sporting events compete for revenue of some of the same corporate sponsorships and swank hospitality tents. The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix had 75 corporate sponsors last year and "less than 15" were sponsors of both the racing event and the golf tournament, Denker said.

Many corporate sponsors of the golf tournament signed multi-year deals based on the success of the inaugural event, according to Langwell. There's a waiting list for hospitality tents, he said.

But the greatest challenge may be for fans, Denker said. 

"That's the biggest question to me, really," he said. "How is the fan going to choose?"

Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN