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Volume 21 No. 2
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Hospitality sales brisk at Presidents

With fewer than two weeks before the first shot is struck in the Presidents Cup, only a handful of small hospitality packages remain available.

Matt Kamienski, executive director of the Presidents Cup, said sales have been brisk, which is impressive for an area that already hosted the Memorial Tournament on the same golf course at Muirfield, and a state that is home to a World Golf Championships event in Toledo. Muirfield is in Dublin, Ohio, just outside of Columbus.

Muirfield, after hosting the Memorial in May, will welcome the Presidents Cup next month.
Kamienski, who serves as the PGA Tour’s senior director for all WGC and international events, said the tour has asked a lot of the corporate community around Columbus this year. The Presidents Cup, which begins with opening ceremonies on Oct. 2, is being held at Muirfield, the same site as Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial each May.

“The people in this immediate area got hit twice, so to speak,” Kamienski said. “But the support has been tremendous.”

The PGA Tour operates the Presidents Cup, which is a biennial team competition that pits a U.S. team against an international, non-European squad.

The tour began offering hospitality units through its own sales office more than a year ago. It also hired an agency, HNS Sports Group, in Dublin. Run by President Dan Sullivan, HNS Sports also manages the Memorial.

HNS primarily sold hospitality units to companies in the Greater Columbus and Ohio area, while the tour’s sales team sold to the tour’s 50 or so marketing partners and other prospects. The final client list of more than 120 companies will be a mix of local, national and international organizations.

The event’s two global partners, Citi and Rolex, also will have heavy hospitality.

“This region has had some major events, but this really provides a unique backdrop for people to entertain,” Sullivan said. “It’s distinctly different than what we do for the Memorial.”

The hospitality offerings are fairly traditional, with private packages being sold for groups of 40, 80 or 125 people. The large white tents, set up and operated by Ohio-based Shaffer Sports and Events, can be decorated with company and Presidents Cup branding by Salem Sports, a North Carolina agency that works with the tour on design and signage for several of its events. Minnesota-based Prom Catering, another PGA Tour business partner, is handling the food and beverage.

The hospitality packages start in the high five figures and can exceed $200,000, not including the food and beverage and decorating. On the high end, the presidential suites run $225,000 for 125 people in a 2,000-square-foot facility. The package includes a few extras, such as honorary observer positions with some of the matches and access to the Captain’s Club, another premium shared space on the 10th hole. The smaller 40-person deals start at $75,000 for an 800-square-foot chalet.

Kamienski said only smaller shared spaces were available for six to 12 people as sales hit the home stretch last week. The event has built hospitality into every hole from 9 through 18, except for 17, which didn’t have a natural place for a hospitality tent.

“This is comparable to what we’ve tried to do at other venues,” Kamienski said.

By comparison, chalets for the older and more established Ryder Cup last year in Chicago started at $235,000 for 50 people and went up to $500,000 for 150 people.

“I think what we saw during the sales process was an elevated interest in something that is a one-time opportunity,” Sullivan said of the Presidents Cup. “This is going to be an atmosphere that’s very different than the Memorial. Both brands — the Memorial and the Presidents Cup — are extremely successful, but this is a chance to celebrate an international competition coming to our region.”

The tour will be increasing the number of video boards and scoreboards around the course at Muirfield. That will provide a point of distinction from the Memorial, which, by choice, still uses the scoreboards that are manually updated by hand.

The Presidents Cup will feature a total of 25 boards across the golf course, three more than the last event on U.S. soil in 2009. Ten of the boards will show scores only, while 15 will have full video capability to show live action, highlights, player bios, scoring and other programming.

Jacksonville-based Information and Display Systems, a longtime tour partner, is supplying some of the boards, while the tour will supply the rest. IDS will handle production and programming on the boards.

Kamienski said the nonprofit event hopes to exceed the record amount of $4.5 million donated to charity in 2011.