Cliburn and Colonial put Fort Worth in international spotlight

Posted Thursday, May. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Every four years in springtime, Fort Worth can count on making international headlines not once, but twice.

For generations, the annual Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial golf tournament and the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition have been Fort Worth’s best opportunities to tell its story to the world.

In recent years, auto racing and TCU Horned Frogs football have drawn larger crowds and TV ratings than the older traditions. But neither fast cars nor pigskins have the broad international appeal of golf and classical music, where winners are as likely to come from Argentina, South Africa or South Korea as from the United States.

Colonial and Cliburn both celebrate world-famous heroes, neither a Fort Worth native but both legendary city ambassadors: championship golfer Ben Hogan and the late concert pianist Van Cliburn.

There is one other important connection:

Both events bring millions of dollars in economic development to Fort Worth.

The Cliburn is the primary tourist attraction in the city’s $80 million-per-year arts industry, drawing a total attendance of 45,000 across three weekends to Bass Performance Hall and an estimated 2.5 million online viewers in 157 countries worldwide.

Besides the competition itself, “the Cliburn” includes a year-round concert series and an amateur event that adds to its international appeal

The Colonial draws more than 100,000 fans each year and an estimated $24 million in direct spending, according to a study a few years ago. That’s plus another $6 million in jobs that revolve around the tournament.

With the help of sponsor InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and its Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts brand, the Colonial also has become one of Texas’ most successful charity benefits.

Last year’s tournament raised $7 million in a single weekend, shared among 77 charities doing good work in the community all year.

For those who want a taste of the Colonial or the Cliburn, there’s more news: Tickets remain for both.

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