The BMW Championship: Corporate Support is Key to Success

Just as professional golfers rely on corporate sponsors to help them succeed on the course, golf championship managers look to corporate partnerships as part of a winning event-marketing strategy.

Corporate hospitality sales for the PGA TOUR’s BMW Championship, to be held Sept. 3-9 at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, are approaching record numbers, proving that Hoosiers — who have rallied around big-time events like February’s Super Bowl — possess the corporate support to stage national sporting events.

Individual ticket sales and volunteer recruitment (remember all those blue scarves in downtown Indianapolis during Super Bowl festivities?) are important ingredients to an event’s success, but corporate backing is the key. Large-scale events, such as the BMW Championship, thrive only in markets that provide broad corporate involvement.

The BMW Championship, the third of four events in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, has already drawn support from more than 150 local companies. In September, corporate hospitality guests will enjoy prime viewing spots from 31 private corporate tents on the 12th, 14th and 18th holes as they follow the world’s top 70 players in a battle for $8 million in prize money and a $1.44 million winner’s share.

Many other corporate supporters will take advantage of the amenities in the shared clubhouse hospitality area, designated as the Champions Club. Additional offerings will include elaborate BMW hospitality venues and the Wadley Club, an upgraded ticket venue with a climate-controlled interior. And there will be plenty to see.  Special attractions for all spectators will include BMW car displays, merchandise tents, interactive contests and Biergartens offering food and refreshments throughout the championship grounds.

Support is not just a one-way street. Vendors assisting with tournament operations are, when possible, hired locally. The corporate support and the dollars spent to hire local vendors — combined with the travel and tourism revenue generated by the BMW Championship — will result in an economic impact to the region exceeding $30 million.

With the enthusiasm already shown, the 2012 BMW Championship is destined for success. And if Hoosiers continue on course with their support of corporate hospitality and individual ticket sales between now and the first week in September, the championship is certain to be a “hole-in-one” for both the event and the community.

For more information about the BMW Championship, please visit www.BMWChampionshipUSA.com.

Billy Rodgers is a tournament director for the Western Golf Association, host of the BMW Championship. He can be contacted at [email protected].

IBJ: Changes at Speedway Help Businesses, Bottom Line

The Indianapolis Business Journal’s blog, The Score, posted an interesting piece today, contending the many changes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have things moving in the right direction. Among those, its focus on giving more value and opportunity to its corporate partners is targeted as a momentum shifter. What’s more, it mentions that our former chairman, Andre Lacy, is now playing a prominent role on the Speedway’s board.

We’re excited to see IMS racing toward a bright future — not just because it’s an Indiana Chamber member, but because it’s such an instrumental figure in the history and future of our great state. IBJ writes:

Tony George is no longer head of the operation. But he is on the board. This is a board that has in recent years decided to significantly expand itself beyond familial borders.

Shortly after George was replaced by Belskus in 2009, several board members were added to the mix, notably LDI Chairman Andre B. Lacy and former Anthem Chief Financial Officer Michael L. Smith. Before that move, the board was largely run by Mari Hulman George, her three daughters, and son, Tony.

Indiana Pacers President Jim Morris and Central Indiana Corporate Partnership CEO Mark Miles, who chaired the 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee and is former CEO of the ATP Tour, were added this year, as was Belskus.

When I asked Lacy why he had been added to the board overseeing the Speedway, he deadpanned: “Everybody needs a boss.”

It was clear, the inner circle had been broadened by a new thinking—and a new level of checks and balances.

At first, Belskus seemed awkward in public and uncomfortable with the media. Quickly it became apparent he was serious about following the new board’s primary objectives: Cut expenses and raise revenue…

Last year, Belskus hung corporate signage along pit lane. This year, he made the bold move to sell wall space in turns three and four to Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka and Shell Oil Co. It was the first time such ads were hung at the Brickyard.

Also this year, NTB, a national car service and retail outlet, will have signage in the grass at turn one and signage will be hung on the back of existing video boards. Also firsts at the vaunted Speedway.

IMS’ opening up of areas previously off-limits to advertisers has created a swell of interest among marketers. In addition to Fuzzy’s, Speedway officials signed new deals this year with Continental Tire, Nissan, Visit Florida, First National Bank of Omaha, 5-Hour Energy, Farmers Insurance, Nationwide and Banana Boat.

Belskus told IBJ he expects a strong double-digit increase in sponsorship sales this May at the track and a possible 10-percent plus increase in total revenue for this year’s Indianapolis 500 over last year.

IMS Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Mike Redlick said “there’s been a change in philosophy” at the track. At the heart of the change, said Speedway executives, is creating an event that is more friendly toward the track’s corporate partners.