News From Terre Haute, Indiana

On & Off the Course

June 14, 2009

ON AND OFF THE COURSE: In a bad economy, should LPGA raise its fees?

TERRE HAUTE — For 31 years The LPGA’s Corning Classic was held at Corning Country Club in Corning, N.Y., with Corning Glassware as its title sponsor. This year, however, was the end of an era as LPGA players played their final rounds in its’ longest-running event. Due to many factors Corning chose to not renew their contract for 2010.

The bad economy was an obvious culprit, but was not solely responsible. Corning Glassware was hit hard by the global recession, which led to a 13 percent reduction in its workforce (650 jobs. There was also a 50 percent drop in sponsorship support, which amounted to $500,000. Projected cost increases for the 2010 event were $300,000, and for 2011, when the purse was to increase from $1.5 million to $1.7 million, meaning the cost increase for the sponsor would be $675,000.

Not only are the purses for events increasing, television production costs will be going from $255,000 a year to $425,000 in 2010, with five percent increases each year through 2013. The reason has to do with the LPGA’s new business plan, referred to as “Vision 2010”.

Vision 2010 is a business plan that reorganizes the LPGA into three key business units: Tournament Operations and Player Services, New Business Development and Worldwide Sales, and LPGA Tournament and Schedule Development.

According to an article in the June 1 edition of Golf World, the LPGA tour wants to increase purses and improve benefits for players. That amounts to added costs for tournaments though. Specifically, an added cost that would become the full responsibility of the events are the scoreboards. Currently that cost is shared with the LPGA.

There is also a large increase in the sanction fee, as well as making tournaments pay half of the Golf Channel’s production costs. The LPGA has been somewhat flexible on those counts, but only for the near term, a delay of one year. The Corning organizers looked at the long-term picture and decided that the numbers couldn’t work for them, hence the end of an era.

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