The announcement was officially made April 15, with McKinney set to host the tournament from 2021-26. It is expected the competition will be held each May, per tradition. This marks the first time in the tournament’s 76-year history that it will be played outside of Dallas County.
The Byron Nelson is a weeklong event with four days of competition designed to celebrate the sport of golf, officials said. It serves as a stop on the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour and is a televised event. In addition to drawing international attention to McKinney, the tournament brings with it visitors and business opportunities alike.
“The overall economic impact can be very high,” said Brian Loughmiller, a former mayor for McKinney who now sits on the McKinney Economic Development Corp. board. “When you can go out to the major corporations ... and say, ‘Look, we were able to land a major PGA event in McKinney’—that says something in terms of what is happening in our community, and it could potentially translate into companies looking at McKinney as a place that they would want to do business.”
The Byron Nelson also attracts visitors who come for the fun of the competition, Tournament Director Jon Drago said.
“We want to be an annual rite of spring in North Texas,” he said. “We’ll have concerts after play, and it’s basically just a four-day, all-day festival.”
While the Byron Nelson has not conducted an official study since its 2013 tournament, an estimate from 2008 and the 2013 study showed the event’s annual economic impact was just over $40 million, Drago said.
A smaller version of the study conducted by the Convention and Visitors Bureau in Dallas showed a $12 million boost from hotel room stays, he said.
“It comes from a lot of hotels, and it comes from business and fans that are there, eating,” Drago said. “We estimate we have anywhere between 150,000-200,000 people that will attend for the week.”
Loughmiller said relationships between McKinney and PGA officials were key to the decision, as were McKinney’s advancements with development and infrastructure.
“When you think about it, here we are in the middle of a pandemic, and yet, despite that, the fact that we were able to get major corporations and companies in Collin County ... to basically say, ‘If you can get this tournament to Collin County, we definitely want to be involved on some level,’ that right there shows the strength and interest of having a major sporting event within your community,” Loughmiller said.
Attracting tournament visitors
TPC Craig Ranch’s location played a factor in bringing the tournament to McKinney, Drago said. Officials often refer to its site at the intersection of Custer Road and Hwy. 121 as “the crossroads of Collin County,” as it connects McKinney, Plano, Allen and Frisco.
James Craig is president of Craig International, a real estate, brokerage, development and consulting company whose founder developed McKinney’s Craig Ranch community. He said he believes it to be one of the few places in the metroplex where four cities come together at one intersection.
Drago said there might be a misconception that the tournament’s location being farther north will attract fewer crowds. He said he is confident the tournament will continue to attract hundreds of thousands of people.
“It is the absolute furthest thing from my mind that that’s going to be a concern,” he said. “When you think about specifically where TPC Craig Ranch is located, right there at the southwest corner of McKinney, there’s just so much density that’s within drivable distance.”
TPC Craig Ranch also boasts an abundance of available nearby parking, which impressed tournament officials, Drago said.
With the amount of homes immediately surrounding TPC Craig Ranch, Drago said he would not be surprised if the Byron Nelson tournament sold out.
“We’ve just got to create something, an environment that people want to come to, because [Collin County] is the fourth-largest growing market in the United States,” he said.
Benefits to McKinney ISD
The AT&T Byron Nelson ultimately aims to support the Momentous Institute, according to Mike McKinley, the chair of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, the host organization for the tournament. Momentous Institute provides social and emotional health support for children and partners with more than 5,500 children and families, according to a news release.
All proceeds from the tournament benefit the institute.
While McKinney ISD has not collaborated directly with the institute, Superintendent Rick McDaniel said he is familiar with its work. Having the tournament closer will allow the district to develop deeper relationships with institute leaders, he said.
“I foresee a future partnership as we, as a district, continue to strive for ways to support all aspects of our students’ lives, including the social and emotional piece,” McDaniel said in an email. “Lending the support looks different now than it did even a decade ago. Students’ needs are different and most certainly growing.”
McKinney ISD’s enthusiasm for the Momentous Institute struck a chord with McKinley, he said.
“We really felt like it was such a great fit because they not only wanted the tournament, they absolutely want a connection to the Momentous Institute,” McKinley said.