When the USGA decided to award the 2013 U.S. Open to Merion Golf Club, they knew they would take a financial hit.
With the Ardmore, Pa., property being so small, the USGA would be able to offer limited hospitality options and to sell just 25,000 tickets each day, compared to closer to 45,000 at most "modern" Opens.
All of that sacrificing to bring the national Open back to Merion, however, may mean the first loss on the U.S. Open in decades, according to a report by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The report cites an anonymous sources claiming the USGA will lose $10 million on this Open, which is the organization's largest revenue driver.
Compare that figure to the estimated $50 million profit the organization made from the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines -- a public, 36-hole facility with maximum space to host a U.S. Open at minimal cost. In other words, the USGA has made enough money from recent Opens to afford a financial hit for the opportunity to return to a historic Mecca for the organization -- home to Bobby Jones completing the Grand Slam in 1930, as well as home to Ben Hogan's iconic U.S. Open win in 1950.
The USGA generates approximately $40 million in revenue from domestic and international TV rights fees. Those deals with NBC Universal and ESPN expire in 2014. Wasserman Media Group has been retained by the USGA to assist in those negotiations.
Despite the reported projected loss, USGA executive director Mike Davis said he has "not seen anything to say we would not come back here." He added, "Personally I'd already like to see us return. I'm not sure Merion wants us to return."