SBD/June 13, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

USGA Seeing Strong Merchandise Sales In Opening Days Of U.S. Open

U.S. Open shopping pavilion in recent years has taken in nearly $10M annually
USGA Senior Dir of Licensing & Merchandising Mary Lopuszynski said this year's U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club "has been the most challenging" in terms of setting up the organization's sales tent, according to E. Michael Johnson of GOLF DIGEST STIX. Lopuszynski said, "Normally we would have a 36,000-square-foot pavilion. This year we have a main pavilion of 24,000 square feet and two other totaling another 12,000 square feet." She said of potential big sellers at the U.S. Open, "People love the wicker-basket logo. We'll sell close to 100,000 hats and about 60,000 shirts. We have some cool T-shirts with the logo and the four past Merion Open champions. We also reproduced the tournament program covers from the 1934 and 1950 as posters. We're reaching back into Merion's history" (GOLF DIGEST STIX, 6/12 issue). Lopuszynski noted that sales of other "golf-related paraphernalia were 'the best ever' in the four days the merchandise tent ... was open to the public" (WSJ.com, 6/10). She said that the U.S. Open's shopping pavilion in recent years has "taken in nearly $10 million annually, mostly from apparel sales." The USGA this year expects to "complete more than 100,000 transactions at the merch tent's 36 cash registers." In Philadelphia, Elizabeth Wellington noted the USGA "began working with fashion brands in August to design items that incorporate the 2013 Open's logo." Official USGA outfitter Ralph Lauren will manufacture about 20,000 items, including "polo shirts made from perspiration-resistant fabric in neons and navies, and women's plaid golf skirts with built-in shorts." Meanwhile, the Travis Mathew company has "incorporated graphic T-designs on polo shirts, a big deal in the golf world." And in a nod to golfer Rickie Fowler, New Era has designed "orange plaid baseball caps, which Lopuszynski expects will sell very well" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/11).

TIGHT SQUEEZE: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Michael Smith notes the 110-acre Merion Golf Club poses some "unique challenges" for the USGA team in charge of "finding a home for all of its hospitality clients." USGA Senior Managing Dir of Business Affairs Sarah Hirshland said, "You just can't do everything you want to do on the golf course property. This Open requires tremendous creativity and a lot of cooperation from the community." Hirshland cited the "cooperation of the Haverford Township, Pa., community because many of the Open's hospitality clients will be partying in the front yards of homeowners across the street from the course." The USGA "struck rental agreements with about 10 homeowners ... to build hospitality structures in their front yards." Those "big white tents will line the street that leads to Merion's entrance." Only the USGA's "five corporate partners -- American Express, Chevron, IBM, Lexus and Rolex -- plus the broadcast partners, NBC and ESPN, will enjoy hospitality on the golf course itself." Those units will be "on the sixth an 13th holes, leaving the finishing holes clean except for the grandstands" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/10 issue).
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