U.S. Olympic trials bring economic boon to Federal Way

"The six-day long U.S. Olympic diving trials made a big splash in the Federal Way economy. Local merchants and businesses are still smiling at the revenue generated with 52 divers, their coaches, families and the press crews that converged in the city to eat, drink, shop and sleep. Federal Way Chamber of Commerce president Alison Corrigan estimates the overall economic benefits to the city economy at $2 million. Red Robin Restaurant near SeaTac Mall saw its business swell with a throng of hungry divers and media personnel each night after the competitions. Assistant General Manager Thad Richardson said sales jumped by $7,623 over projection.They were drinking, eating and celebrating, it was great, Richardson said. It was late night when most of them came in and those are times we're normally slow. We had $3,000 two-hour increments.Westfair Home Decor and Gifts also experienced their share of the diving pie. Owner Stacy Keen said several customers came in who said they were in town for the diving meet. We made a gift basket for one of the divers, Keen said. It was hard to tell if the increase was all due to diving, but a lot of comments were that people were from out of town.Keen also thinks her location near two hotels, the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites and the Marriott helped in the influx of business.This was a great thing to have in Federal Way, Keen said. We're looking forward to the next time too.However, business at SeaTac Mall didn't experience a boost, said mall marketing director Kelley Gast.The overall traffic was pretty steady, she said. Nothing too gangbusters.Gast says the nice weather during the diving trials might have lured people away from the indoor mall, though Gast said she saw a few athletes in the mall's food court.The newly built Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites fared much better by hosting all the divers and most of the media crews. Even before the hotel was open, USA Diving had booked its rooms for the event. Holiday Inn Director of Sales Christine Cochran said the diving trials brought more than $150,000 in hotel revenue.We were sold out for nine days, who couldn't be happy about that? Cochran said. We could have done with a couple of hundred more rooms."

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