The Van’s U.S. open of surfing starts Saturday, and businesses along Huntington Beach hope it leads to an economic boost.
The last time the city did the numbers was 2018, back then this event brought nearly $56 million in revenue to the city. Then came the pandemic and then a condensed version of the open in 2021.
This will be the first time this international competition is back in full swing.
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Shion Crawford may have his toes in the water, but he’s waiting on the sidelines. This teenager is an alternate, which means unless one of the 96 male competitors drops out, he’ll spend next week watching from the beach. Here's how he describes the waves.
“It's pretty small and grindy is what it is just got to surf it out in the heat,” said Crawford.
While he waits, the complex south of the pier is just hours away from welcoming an estimated half a million people over the next nine days. The event was wiped out once by the pandemic, now preparing to host an international crowd again at surf city.
“Just feeling the energy to explore meeting and seeing some of our favorite actions sports athletes and obviously just connecting with other like-minded, I think it's going to be great,” said Jennifer Lau.
Van’s built a pop-up store on the sand where you can customize your own shirt.
John Desmond opted for some traditional tennis shoes, “Just classic straight white vans….we were talking about cleaning methods when I was buying them….”
All along main street, t-shirt shops and restaurant owners are hoping for a spillover effect as beach goers buy souvenirs. That 2018 economic report said about 75% of those who attend the open also spend some of their time shopping.
Police say they too have been planning for this for a year and will be fully staffed to ensure the streets and the sand are safe.
“People bringing own alcohol will not be permitted as it is all year round,” said Huntington Beach Police, Shawn Randell.
There are additional cameras placed throughout the area. Last year, police shot an armed man in front of a crowd on the beach, and things got out of hand in 2013 when riots broke out after the event ended.
Police say their presence will be obvious this year, mounted units, patrols on the sand, and they will have back up from county and state law enforcement.