Day 1: PGA Tour in Newport Beach and Santa Anita Racetrack Highlights First Full Day of Festivities

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By Charles Lerner

Today we went to the PGA Tour Toshiba Classic and to the Santa Anita Race Track. Our first day was so awesome. I never knew much about golf nor horse racing, let alone the business behind it. At the PGA tour, Jeff Purser spoke a lot about the relationship he has with the tour players. Because the players are on the back ends of their careers, they understand what they must do to stay relevant. They often go to sponsor tents, shake hands with clients, and offer unique opportunities for different events such as dinners and golfing events with the athletes. There is infinite room for growth with this in other sports. For example, basketball players could offer these unique experiences to give added benefits to clients, sponsors and fans.

At the race track, each and every one of us had such a fun time. I experienced first hand how much fun individuals can have just based on consumer experience. We often found ourselves placing minimal bets on horses, which kept us very engaged in the races. This could bring great sponsorship value to sports. Although there could of course could be severe ramifications if gambling became legal, it could also make fans much more engaged in games and give them more of a drive to attend live games. This would increase not only attendance numbers, but also concessions, merchandise, sponsorship activation and more. This could also help stimulate the economy and drive more people to follow sports.

By David Berger

On the first full day on the Syracuse University LA Immersion trip we were privileged to visit two very unique sporting venues. After an early hotel breakfast we arrived at Newport Beach, host of the PGA Tour’s Toshiba Classic. The 110-acre course is full of beautiful greens, sand bunkers and ponds. We got to speak with the tour director, Jeff Purser, who explained us the strategic planning behind preparing for the event. He described the importance of having strong brands as tournament corporate sponsors, and how the players participating in the tournament, mostly retired veteran golfers, play a large role in strengthening the relationships with sponsors by meeting with them and occasionally going on private golf outings with them. The Toshiba Classic is a non-profit charity organization and therefore, its’ main goal is to raise money for the Hoag Hospital and engage the local community in charity events.
Our second stop was the Santa Anita Park, a historical landmark in the sport of horse racing. We got to meet a professional jockey and several employees working for the park that explained the marketing strategies used to generate high revenues. Perhaps my biggest takeaway from the racetrack was truly understanding the importance of consumer experience. As consumers of several races, the entire group had a great time betting on horses as a bonding experience.
Although I went into the day with limited knowledge on professional golf and horse racing I learned a lot of cool things and broadened my sport horizons. Overall today was an incredible learning experience, and I can’t wait for the rest of awesome events ahead!
By Samantha Weisman

Today’s activities included a visit to the Newport Beach Country Club for the Toshiba Classic as well as the Santa Anita Race Track. Located across the street from a collection of yacht clubs, the scents of a salty sea breeze collided with fresh springtime greenery as we toured the beautiful grounds of the golf course following a very personal and informative Q and A with Jeff Purser. He clarified every aspect of the PGA, especially the very noticeable governing differences with the four major sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL). Unlike these leagues, the PGA is not for profit, and every match is designated to support a different charity. The Toshiba Classic, part of the Champions Tour, has raised over 17 million dollars in the past 17 years for the Hoag Memorial Hospital. Mr. Purser also touched upon the personable, engaging attitudes of the golfers, and how they really make the tour all that it is. Trying to find such an interactive experience is nearly impossible in any other sport, due to the “spoiled punks controlled by agents” that Mr. Purser describes as today’s typical professional athlete. Jeff gave the impression that there really were no negatives to working this tournament, a very appealing option to the future capstone/job hunter.

Our next destination after a drive along the snow topped mountains was the Santa Anita race track. At first sight, the demographic contrasts were evident. From the inland location to the sponsors from the complete opposite side of the spectrum, it was clear that knowing your audience is extremely important to the sport industry. Santa Anita’s customers are most likely not interested in luxury technologies and cars. The race track also generates income in a very different way compared to most sports who do so through advertising. They collect a certain percent of every winning bet, with 8-10 races on an average day. Yesterday alone with a highly anticipated race, the betting totaled 22 million dollars.

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Departure!March 12th, 2016
LA here we come!
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