2012 FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN
Event organizer: The Century Club of
Dates and place: Jan. 23-Jan. 29 at Torrey Pines Golf Course.
Expected attendance: 140,000.
Lead sponsor: Farmers Insurance.
Event description: PGA Tour event featuring 156 professional players competing for a record purse of $6 million.
Local businesses such as Neovision Rental and CJ Norby Signs say they’ll benefit in a big way from providing vendor services at the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open set for Jan. 23-29 at the Torrey Pines Golf Course.
The 60th anniversary golf tournament, which begins with a Sycuan Pro-Am on Jan. 23 and continues with a Junior Clinic on Jan. 24 and a Zurich Pro-Am on Jan. 25 before the opening ceremonies Jan. 26, is expected to draw 140,000 spectators, an increase over the crowd of 130,000 attending last year’s event, according to Tournament Director Peter Ripa.
Other aspects of the event are looking up, too. Ripa is expecting a tripling of concession stands to 22, and close to double-digit increases for such corporate ticket sales as the $37,000 Executive Skybox private seating for 20 guests and the $28,500 18th fairway Corporate Chalet outdoor patio seating packages.
Reaching New Heights
“We’ve committed resources to elevate the presentation of the event that spectators will see when they’re on the property,” said Ripa, who attributes some of the sales increases to an improved economy and the availability of closer shuttle parking at University Towne Center as opposed to Qualcomm Stadium. “There’s a level of excitement with the new business.”
The Century Club of San Diego, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization hosting the event, recently announced the hiring of Ripa, who will succeed Tom Wilson as executive director of The Century Club following Wilson’s planned retirement at the conclusion of the golf tournament. Wilson has held the post for the last 20 years.
The Century Club was involved in generating $1.7 million for charity at the 2011 Farmers Insurance Open, just a portion of the more than $22 million the organization has raised for charities through various events during the last 50 years, Ripa said. A few of the primary charitable recipients are Monarch School, Pro Kids Academy and the San Diego County Junior Golf Association.
Among the 40 or so vendors on hand at this year’s event, including the familiar The Coca-Cola Co., Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. and Waste Management Inc., will be a variety of businesses providing accessories from food to golf carts to signs and digital displays.
Eight of Neovison Rental’s large-scale digital display systems will be interspersed with The PGA of America’s TV sets scattered along the golf course and the eateries during the weeklong event. Neovision Executive Vice President Mike Newton said the company, staffed by six in Sorrento Mesa and 15 worldwide, has been working the tournament for more than a half-dozen years.
“For us it gets a little bigger every year. We’re trying to find ways to be innovative,” Newton said. “I work in a competitive environment. There’s a lot of companies that would like that contract.”
Newton said the company’s long-term relationship with The Century Club has helped to grow the business. Connections with the organization have led to introductions to the Tiger Woods Foundation, which in turn led to a foundation client seeking a referral to Neovision. Next, Newton said the company hopes to secure a multimillion-dollar contract with the City of San Diego, which plans to host a large undisclosed event in September 2013. Newton said he’s expecting to hear word of that contract award soon.
Newton credits the open communication and rewarding relationship he has with The Century Club’s operations director, Kevin Bang, and its marketing and hospitality director, Heidi Raymond, both of whom he says “open doors for us.”
“The biggest benefit is the exposure and being able to work with a great organization like The Century Club,” Newton said. “It’s the kind of client a company like mine seeks.”
Another local company that will have a high-visibility presence at the Farmers Insurance Open will be El Cajon-based CJ Norby Signs. Owner Carol Dodds-Klink says the company is returning to the event for its 16th year and will be providing such things as directional signage, cart signs, decals on tents and specialty displays for Farmers Insurance.
Dodds-Klink said the annual golf tournament, formerly known as the Buick Invitational, gives a lift to business after the slow holiday period. She says she’s recently brought in six subcontractors to supplement the two-person staff to handle the workload. Referrals from tournament organizers also contributed to increased business with the Nissan Open, Junior World Golf Championships, San Diego Junior Golf Association and Pro Kids, she said.
“It gives us a nice boost at the end of the year when some of our regular clients are quieter,” she said. “It gets to be a free-for-all, especially during the last couple of weeks near the tournament. It’s pretty much hands-on nonstop.”