The Connecticut Open is celebrating the 20th anniversary of women's tennis in New Haven, and the tournament means big business for the Elm City.
Tournament guests are grabbing a bite to eat from the food trucks at the event, or are dining downtown before making their way toward the stadium, either way, the city loves seeing the extra visitors.
Barbara LeFleur and her group of friends make the trip up from New Jersey. For them and plenty of others, the Connecticut Open is a yearly tradition.
"It’s a nicer, gentler version of the U.S. Open. It’s not too crowded, the food trucks are amazing and it’s a nice way to spend the day. It’s a lovely ride up and we try to make a yearly tradition of it,” LeFleur said.
The 2017 Connecticut Open marks the 20th year of professional women's tennis in the city, and while organizers say the week-long event showcases New Haven as a place to work, eat, and play, the tennis generates quite a bit of green.
"It’s the equivalent of 660 part time jobs its keeping, bringing people into the city of New Haven to frequent the hotels, the restaurants, its hiring all kinds of vendors, it adds up to more than $10 million economic impact for the New Haven region,” said Anne Worcester, of the CT Open.
Restaurants like the Temple Grill have signs out welcoming tennis players and fans who are in town for the tournament.
"A lot them stay right here at the Omni Hotel and they'll come in and check out the menu and we're part of the passport program so players can come in and dine here on us,” said Chris Candido, of Temple Grill.
While downtown businesses are booming, tournament organizers and players are focused on this week.
Some fans like Barbara and her friends are already thinking about next year.
"I really like it and we try to bring up more people to get them used to it, to get our group bigger and bigger. Next year we're going to have to hire a bus,” LeFleur said.
Tennis action is in the city all week, with the finals set for Saturday afternoon.
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