SBJ/20080804/This Week's News

LPGA asking $4M annually to sponsor tournament series

The LPGA is putting a $4 million annual price tag on an umbrella sponsorship for the eight-tournament series it hopes to get on network television in 2010.

Tour officials made a presentation to a small number of tournament owners and title sponsors who recently attended a sponsor summit at the Evian Masters in Paris. Those in attendance included representatives primarily from international events, as well as executives from HSBC, Kraft Nabisco and Stanford Financial — all of whom title sponsor LPGA tournaments.

Sources familiar with the details of the presentation characterized the umbrella sponsorship as a media commitment that would be used to write down the television expenses of the tournaments participating in the series.

The LPGA is shopping the series to television networks as an aggregated time buy.

Time and production generally cost about $1.7 million per event, so each of the eight tournaments would have to kick in $1.2 million with $500,000 coming from the umbrella sponsor.

The LPGA is also selling three supporting sponsorships of the series for around $1 million a year, but it was unclear where that money would be allocated.

Tour officials did not discuss what other assets would be included with the umbrella sponsorship aside from some form of naming or presenting rights. Standard inventory such as on-site activation and hospitality are expected to be part of any deal.

For an additional fee, the umbrella sponsor could also title sponsor a new season-ending event that would conclude the eight-tournament series.

Details of the sponsorship were vague because many of the necessary components are not completed, leading industry sources to wonder what form the series will ultimately take.

The eight events that will make up the series have not been identified, and the LPGA is trying to secure its television packages for 2010 and beyond.

The LPGA declined to comment for this story.

Talks with NBC and CBS continue, but neither is interested in airing all eight events, meaning they would have to be split among the two. Sources said NBC is interested in four events; CBS in four to six.

Also complicating matters is the roughly $20 million in event sponsorships the LPGA already has on the market.

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