Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 23 No. 24
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

CareerBuilder Challenge drops ticket prices, boosts entertainment options

Lagardère Sports, the new manager of the PGA Tour’s CareerBuilder Challenge, has installed a new festival/entertainment model and slashed ticket prices to drum up fan interest in one of the tour’s oldest events.

The marketing overhaul this year includes a cut in ticket prices from $50 to $30 for the event, which is set for Thursday through Sunday at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. Organizers have also built a pavilion featuring local restaurants and for the first time will host live music with two concerts; one headlined by Huey Lewis and the News and the other by the Goo Goo Dolls.

A total of four clubs will be on site and entry to all fan activities is included with the $30 ticket price.

It’s a new business strategy for a tournament that formerly was known as the Bob Hope Classic and dates back some 60 years.

Retail activation features Lagardère client Phil Mickelson.
The strategy mirrors the approach used by Jeff Sanders, executive vice president of golf events for Lagardère Sports, in running last year’s Safeway Open in Napa, which featured $30 tickets, a food and drink pavilion, and a concert series.

“Golf is the centerpiece, but it cannot be the entire show,” Sanders said. “We have to do things to keep it growing. With the music and the player field, and with amenities, we are removing all cover charges and wristbands and opening it up.”

The entertainment and pricing strategy at the CareerBuilder will be needed to help Sanders meet aggressive attendance expectations of drawing 20,000 fans per day. Last year, the event drew around 10,000 fans per day over the four-day tournament.

“I’ll be disappointed if we don’t triple the audience,” said Sanders, adding that to date, the tournament has sold three times the number of tickets compared to the same period last year.

The new marketing approach also nearly doubles the number of suites to a total of 22, priced between $20,000 and $200,000, addressing a lack of premium inventory last year.

Lagardère was hired by Desert Classic Charities to run the event. CareerBuilder took over title sponsorship of the tournament in 2015, with the deal running through 2021.

Helping the tournament’s marketing effort is Lagardère’s representation of Phil Mickelson, who serves as an ambassador to the event with duties that include attending sponsorship dinners during the week of the tournament.