Players Championship Putting Nearly $1M into Amenities

New features are changing this year's Players Championship into a "showcase."

(from SportsBusiness Daily, February 18, 2013) In hopes of transforming the PGA Tour’s fan experience into a “showcase,” a multimillion-dollar plan is adding several new features to The Players Championship this year.

TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, is home to The Players each May. The event’s Executive Director, Matt Rapp, said, “The Players has to work each year to keep its fans entertained, comfortable, and well-fed,” in order to compete for ticket sales and attendance from at-home viewing.

The added amenities’ cost total close to $1 million from the event and tour. The 2013 event, scheduled for May 6-12, will feature a new food venue, permanent on-site restrooms, repaved walkways, expansion of the entryway to the parking lot, free parking for vehicles with four or more people, pop-up bars serving refreshments, and mobile concession carts.

Rapp stated, “This event has always been a showcase, but the focus of the showcase has been the player experience—what’s going on inside the ropes. But just as important is the fan experience, because the TV experience is getting so good.”

Rapp took the helm in 2010 and has seen the tournament grow every year since. In 2012, corporate sales and attendance were up 31% and 24%, respectively. This lead to a record-setting $6.5 million raised for charity.

The tournament was forced to spend $20,000 leveling off a hill to create a flat surface, after private venues were sold out by last fall. To accommodate the increase in demand, Rapp said that vertical construction on the course would be made for 2014.

Last year’s success of introducing a full bar, Wine and Dine on Nine, created the concept of creating yet another permanent food vendor that will feature local vendors.

Rapp reinstated the PGA’s goal of focusing on the fan by adding, “We’re looking at every possible area and trying to make continuous improvement with a clear eye toward the fan experience.”