PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Classic is changing its location for this year’s LPGA tournament over concerns about nearby homeless camps.

The tournament director told KOIN 6 News they decided to relocate the 2021 tournament to the Oregon Golf Club in West Linn, citing the city’s rise in homelessness, including the area surrounding Columbia Edgewater. They also cite the health and safety of the LPGA players, staff, fans and local community.

With thousands of people coming to the city for the tournament each year, there are increasing safety concerns because of people living near the parking lots.

Tom Maletis, the president of the Tournament Golf Foundation, the non-profit that runs the Cambria Portland Classic, noted this is a special year for the tournament.

Tom Maletis, the president of the Tournament Golf Foundation, June 21, 2021 (KOIN)

“We’ve been at Columbia Edgewater for over 30 years of our 50 years of existence, being out at Pumpkin Ridge, Portland Golf Club and now we are going to the Oregon Golf Club,” Maletis said. “Part of that decision — and it was a very tough decision — was since Columbia Edgewater has been such a big part of our past tournaments and things.”

But after looking at the situation and talking with people, they opted to move to West Linn for this year.

“Around the adjacent area of Columbia Edgewater, that area there’s been a rise in houselessness. There’s been a lot of safety issues, health issues that we had with that area being so close to the course,” he said.

He noted that not far from their main entrance on NE 33rd is a stretch between Marine Drive and Columbia Boulevard that he said “has been one of the worst in Portland. We’ve been really concerned about it because within a few hundred feet of the encampments area and a lot of the people is where 95% of our spectators, players, staff and everyone come into the Columbia Edgewater facility.”

The entrance to the Oregon Golf Club in West Linn, June 21, 2021 (KOIN)

Before they made their decision, he said they spoke with the LPGA, the City of Portland, the Port of Portland and course officials. Because it takes months of planning, Maletis said they needed to make a decision now.

West Linn Community Relations Coordinator Alicia Shroyer said they are very excited to have the Portland Classic in West Linn.

“This tournament has had a strong presence in the Portland metro area for the past 50 years and we can’t wait to welcome the LPGA Tour and their supportive fan base to our community!” Shroyer said in a statement to KOIN 6 News.

The Portland Classic will take place September 16-19. Organizers said it is the longest-running non-major tournament on the LPGA tour. The 72-hole tournament has a $1.4 million purse and will be broadcast live on the Golf Channel.

A general view of the signage near the 18th hole during the final round of the Cambia Portland Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club on September 20, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Statements from city officials

“We’re pleased that the decision was made to keep the tournament in the greater Portland metropolitan area and look forward to its continuation in September 2021. We understand the tournament organizer’s concerns and we’re working to address those.” — Mayor Ted Wheeler

“We were disappointed to learn of the LPGA’s decision to relocate the Cambia Classic Tournament to another nearby golf course in Oregon. Of course, we respect their decision. Travel Portland works with the organizer to arrange hotel blocks and we still expect to see some business from the tournament. We hope they have a successful tournament and we will do everything we can to bring this tournament back to Portland next year.” — Travel Portland President/CEO Jeff Miller