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SBD/March 1, 2011/Events and AttractionsPrint All
The Heritage Tournament Dir Steve Wilmot yesterday said that the PGA Tour event "needs a new sponsor 'sooner than later' if it's to stay on the tour's schedule," according to Josh McCann of the Hilton Head ISLAND PACKET. PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int'l Affairs Ty Votaw said that finding a sponsor is "critical." Votaw: "It's imperative for the long-term future of the event to secure a title sponsor." Votaw "repeated the same statement" when he was asked if that "meant there shouldn't be a tournament in 2012 without a sponsor." Wilmot said that tournament officials "plan to visit the tour's Florida headquarters in mid-March to discuss next steps." Both Wilmot and Votaw said that they "remain cautiously optimistic this year's 43rd annual tournament won't be the last." Votaw added that organizers "discussed the Heritage with prospective sponsors as recently as last week." He said that the Tour "prefers a company give a multi-year commitment to the Heritage, but is considering a shorter deal." Votaw added that the Tour "will do all it can to return to Hilton Head, which he said is a favorite destination of players and can provide ample hospitality for prospective sponsors." Wilmot noted that with "time ticking by, organizers are no longer asking for the $7.6 million they once sought from companies interested in sponsoring this year's tournament." But he added that if a company "buys the sponsorship at a discount," the tournament's charitable contributions "could be hurt this year." Votaw noted that though the Tour has yet to find a new title sponsor for the Heritage, it has "attracted 27 major sponsorships -- including renewals and extensions of title, presenting and supporting sponsorships -- for 23 tournaments since early 2009" (Hilton Head ISLAND PACKET, 3/1). Wilmot said that he has "gotten continued support from South Carolina leadership, including new Gov. Nikki Haley." The AP's Pete Iacobelli noted Haley at a tourism conference "pledged to do what she could to assist the tournament in finding a backer" (AP, 2/28).
MLB has levied ticket price reductions as much as 59% for All-Star Game events this summer in Phoenix. Ticket strips are going on sale to the general public today, and strip prices for the entire run of ASG events will range from $247-817, significantly less than last year's events in Anaheim. On an individual basis, face-value prices for the ASG itself this year range from $90-350, largely unchanged at the high end compared to '10 peak prices of $360. But the $90 upper deck seats at Chase Field are far less than low-end prices of $185 for last year's game. The '11 Home Run Derby ticket price spread of $60-325 shows a similar dynamic compared to the '10 range of $145-330. All-Star Sunday, which includes the annual Futures Game and a celebrity softball game, is priced this year at $35-80. Industry sources said the battered local economy in and around Phoenix played a significant role in MLB's pricing decisions. The ticket pricing for this year's All-Star events also is very similar to the spread used two years ago in St. Louis, where tickets for the ASG were $100-360, $75-335 for the Home Derby, and $25-175 for All-Star Sunday.
The fifth annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference starts Friday at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, where a "sellout crowd of 1,500" will attend the two-day event that has become "part trade show, part seminar, part networking hub," according to Shira Springer of the BOSTON GLOBE MAGAZINE. This year's crowd will include team owners such as the Mavericks' Mark Cuban, as well as "league commissioners, general managers, coaches, and athletes." In addition, author Malcolm Gladwell will speak. Springer notes there is a "crowded field of professional sports organizations recruiting Boston talent for jobs in the growing field of sports analytics, the development and use of complicated statistics for decision making in all aspects of the business, from player trades to on-field strategy to ticket prices." Boston provides an "ideal mix -- lots of universities, championship-winning franchises, team owners with big-business backgrounds -- for smart, young mathematicians and entrepreneurs who’d like to come up with clever new answers to the professor’s question." Some team execs "consider Boston the Silicon Valley of sports analytics." Celtics Managing Partner Steve Pagliuca "calls it a new Florence, a place of trendsetting creativity influencing teams around the world." Michael Lewis, author of "Moneyball," contends that "being on the cutting edge of sports analytics ... has been great for Boston." The Celtics ownership, Patriots Owner Robert Kraft and Red Sox Owner John Henry "all come from wildly successful business backgrounds, where number crunching is a way of life." Lewis said, "It’s amazing how dominant the Boston area teams are right now -- the Red Sox, the Celtics, the Patriots. And it really has a lot to do with embracing a new way of thinking about sports" (BOSTON GLOBE MAGAZINE, 2/27 issue).