March 1, 2006 - For the fan of golf, beer and brats, the Chrysler Classic of Tucson is the place to be.
More than 152,000 fans flocked to the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort, 2727 W. Club Drive, from Feb. 19 through Feb. 26 to enjoy the 60th anniversary of the Chrysler Classic of Tucson - the ninth oldest stop on the PGA tour.
To celebrate the diamond anniversary of Tucson's premier golf tournament, scores of fans took in more than just golf.
With temperatures hovering between 75 and 80 degrees over the course of the weeklong tournament, attendance figures rose by nearly 4,000 fans from last year's tourney.
The increase in spectators is music to the ears of vendors selling food, beverages and souvenirs by the clubhouse and at strategic holes throughout the course.
"They were buying beer like crazy," said Mike Moldenhauer, a manager for Port-A-Pit. "We could tell by the tip jar."
Port-A-Pit was the largest vendor camped out at the Omni, setting up its five tents - including locations on holes 7, 12 and 16 - more than a week in advance. Although beer was one of its biggest sellers, bottled water trumped all other items purchased from the Tucson-based Port-A-Pit and its 60 employees.
From Port-A-Pit alone, fans noshed on 500 hot dogs, 300 sausages and 100 orders of chicken on an average day. On Friday, which Moldenhauer estimated to be the busiest day for sales, Port-A-Pit sold upward of 750 hot dogs.
Fans washed down the southern-style barbecue with roughly $1,500 an hour worth of beer during the busiest periods on Sunday, the tournament's final day.
Port-A-Pit is contracted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to feed workers of major emergencies. When not dealing with national tragedies, Port-A-Pit sub-contracts major events such as feeding the fans of the PGA tour. During fire season, the Tucson company has stations in Fresno, Calif., Reno, Nev., and Okanogan, Wash.
But folks have a choice when it comes to what they put in their bodies. Those looking simply to imbibe hit up the Omni's five different bars and snack stands.
"It's because we have a lot of male clientele here," said Bree Wiegel, a Marana resident and server at one of the Omni's beverage carts about the inflated booze sales. The big seller on Sunday wasn't beer, although by tournament's end, the suds supply had run dry. Wiegel estimated that Bloody Marys topped the list of alcoholic beverages sold with nearly 100 bought that day.
The Omni had drink and food locations in its two restaurants - Legends and the Fiesta Room - as well as at three other carts just outside the 18th hole.
For those who spilled beer or mustard on their shirts, or for those who just wanted a memento of the tour's final year at the Omni, the pro shop was a lifesaver. Specializing in items such as hats and T-shirts, the pro shop and its outdoor tent pulled in roughly $12,000 on each of the tournament's final two days.
Among the big sellers at the pro shop was the Omni hat and T-shirt combo and the divot repair kit.
On a side note, the Tucson Conquistadors hit their mark of $1 million in funds raised. The money will go to a host of youth sport charities scattered throughout Southern Arizona.
Christopher Wuensch is a staff writer covering sports. He can be reached at 797-4384 ext. 112 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.