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Volume 24 No. 157

Events and Attractions

Augusta National Chair Billy Payne yesterday "talked about accessibility at his annual 'State of the Masters' address the day before the tournament," according to Chris Gay of the AUGUSTA CHRONICLE. The Masters "already features a Junior Patron Program," and now a video game -- EA Sports' "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters" -- will try to "attract more youths to golf." Payne said of Augusta National appearing in the game, "This decision was completely based on our motivation to positively influence the growth and visibility of the sport of golf. Playing video games is a popular entertainment choice for kids today, and our involvement may, we hope, inspire greater appreciation for golf and, in turn, encourage participation." Payne added that "proceeds from the game will go to the newly formed Masters Tournament Foundation, which will support the growth of the game around the world." Payne "announced earlier in the week a new online ticketing system that would offer fans an opportunity to purchase a limited number of daily tournament tickets" beginning with next year's tournament. Yesterday he "mentioned giving more people an opportunity to walk the grounds at Augusta National," noting that tickets "became available because of attrition." Payne: "Somebody thought we would be adding just to do this, but we have, in fact, reduced modestly the number of tickets we sold the last five years." He was "unsure what the chances are of getting a ticket to the 2012 Masters" (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 4/7).

In Miami, Leonard Shapiro notes Payne last year "publicly excoriated Tiger Woods," but he was "in more of a forgive-and-forget mode Tuesday when he was asked about" the video game. In prepared remarks before he took questions from the media, Payne "did not mention Woods by name." Payne later was asked specifically about Augusta National's decision to be associated with Woods, and he said, "We continue to believe Tiger is one of the greatest golfers of all time. And we hoped and prayed that his comeback would go forward in a very positive way" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/7). In N.Y., Filip Bondy notes a relationship with Woods is "no longer considered commercially poisonous" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/7).

WE'VE GOT AN APP FOR THAT: USA TODAY’s Mike Snider reviewed The Masters Golf Tournament iPad app and gave it a “4 out of 4” rating. The app costs $1.99 and “does more than merely complement the TV experience for golf fans.” Video is “a major stroke in what makes the app appealing,” as nine live HD video streams “will be available for viewing, including a featured group on the back nine, tournament action at Amen Corner and play at holes No. 15 and 16.” Video from Amen Corner begins “hours before TV broadcasts begin.” Snider writes that alone is “worth more than the price of admission itself for golf junkies.” A redesigned dashboard “lets users navigate the video streams, leader board, news updates and highlights.” Meanwhile, Snider notes the free version for iPhone offers “live video along with video highlights and a live scoreboard” (USA TODAY, 4/7). However, Payne yesterday said that there is a "limit to how much technology the club will embrace." Payne: "We already have cutting edge technology. But most of it's buried under ground" (AP, 4/6).

IS FIELD GETTING TOO LARGE? In DC, Barry Svrluga notes the Masters field this year consists of 99 golfers, and that number "has officials at Augusta National considering measures that could reduce the size in future years." Payne yesterday said, "We are really going to have to look at it this year, because there is a maximum number of competitors for which we can give the experience that we want them to have and do it in a way that's manageable. The hundred pushes that limit quite significantly." Svrluga notes the field is the "largest since 1966, and it has grown -- at least by a few competitors -- since officials allowed in anyone who won one of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup events" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/7). GOLF WORLD DAILY's Ron Sirak notes Payne "gave no indication which way the club might be leaning, but count on this: Before Augusta National re-opens in October after its annual summer hiatus, a new plan will be in place to limit field size" (GOLF WORLD DAILY, 4/7).

NCAA and Indianapolis organizers are “ecstatic about how the Women's Final Four played out at Conseco Fieldhouse,” but “one negative loomed from Sunday and Tuesday -- the crowd average of 16,947 was the lowest since 1997,” according to Phillip Wilson of the INDIANAPOLS STAR. Tuesday’s Texas A&M-Notre Dame championship game drew a crowd of 17,473, which “was better” then Sunday’s attendance of 16,421, but "well short of 18,549 capacity" for the event. NCAA VP/D-I Women's Basketball Sue Donohoe acknowledged that she “was surprised the games didn't sell out, as anticipated, and alluded to how school ticket demands weren't as high as expected.” The NCAA is “hopeful a new ticket plan that will make all seats available online on a first-come, first-served basis can help.” The Women's Final Four used to be played on Friday and Sunday instead of Sunday and Tuesday, and Donohoe said that a "review of game dates and times will be discussed, among other things," with broadcast partner ESPN. Donohoe yesterday said that the “positives outweighed the attendance issue.” Donohoe said the event was a "game-changer for women's basketball." In addition to a “free concert and Tourney Town, about 1,300 attended a charity run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday and about 2,000 kids took part in Circle City Dribble Downtown on Sunday.” The Women’s Final Four will return to Indianapolis in ’16. The event will be played in Denver next year, a “prospect that concerns” Texas A&M women’s coach Gary Blair. He said, "That scares me right there. We've never been there. It's not a huge basketball state. And all of a sudden we're going to Denver just because it's a name right now. I'm not sure that's going to work" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/7).

Six cities with the "most to gain" from February's Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium "enjoyed a healthy shot in the arm from sales tax revenues," according to a Texas state report cited by Gordon Dickson of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Arlington, Ft. Worth, Grapevine, Hurst, Mansfield and Southlake, which all "either hosted Super Bowl events or have regional shopping attractions," saw their sales tax revenues collectively rise 4.4% in February compared to the same period last year. North Texas officials said that they "were pleased with the sales tax revenues collected in February -- even though it wasn't quite the windfall many had hoped for in the days leading up to the big game." In Arlington, which hosted the game at Cowboys Stadium, sales tax revenues in February were $5.8M, up 4.5% from last year. Ft. Worth "housed the Pittsburgh Steelers" during Super Bowl week, and the city collected $6.9M in sales tax revenues, up 4%. Ft. Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said, "I know higher numbers would be better news, but anything that's (not a decline in revenue) it is good news" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/7). In Dallas, Jeff Mosier noted the city, which "hosted the NFL experience, most of the big parties and the Super Bowl media center," saw sales tax revenues increase 2.9% in February. The cities that "hosted the most prominent Super Bowl XLV events did not see unusually large spikes," but "no one can say for certain whether the game's impact was less than predicted" (, 4/6).