Call it the wisdom according to everyone - the Atlantic City area needs more than casino gaming. We need family attractions and big events to draw visitors. And you can add this one: While we're trying to bring in new attractions, we'd better hang on to the ones we have.

So everyone who cares about our tourism economy can join golf fans in celebrating the fact that a deal has been struck to keep the ShopRite LPGA Classic at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway Township at least through 2016.

ShopRite, which provides the big money behind the tournament, has signed a multi-year deal, and that adds some needed security for an event that has been existing on one-year contracts since 2010. Before that, the area actually lost the tournament for three years over a scheduling dispute.

So the fact that ShopRite has signed a five-year deal (It can opt out after the first three years) should mean some stability for an event that has been a proven winner for the area since it began in 1986.

Since 1992, when ShopRite became the title sponsor, backed by its parent company, Wakefern, the tournament has raised more than $27 million for charities. Last year it raised $1.3 million for local charities that included food banks, hospitals and educational institutions.

The Richard Stockton College took over operations of Seaview in 2010. Last fall the college released a study that said the 2013 tournament drew more than 62,000 people, and more than 90 percent of them were from outside Atlantic County. It said the Classic was responsible for $13.5 million in spending benefiting area businesses.

Like the Miss America Pageant, the Classic offers one more reason for people to visit and stay in the area, one more opportunity for positive national exposure and one more big event for locals to enjoy.

It's a chance for fans to get up close and personal with some of the best golfers in the world, including defending champion LPGA Hall of Famer Karrie Webb. For some folks, it's also a chance to play with the pros. The Classic's pro-am, which organizers say is already nearly sold out, is one of the biggest pro-ams at any professional golf event.

The other good news is that the tournament will be played from May 30 to June 1 this year, which should provide beautiful low-humidity, low-greenhead weather for spectators.

Of course, this year, not even Dan Skeldon may be willing to promise that we won't have snow that weekend.


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