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Tournament's million-dollar par will benefit hospital

March 14, 2005

Andrew Edwards

For tournament organizers, par at the Toshiba Senior Classic is a

cool million.

"The goal is to reach $1 million for the sixth year in a row and

everything's on track to do that," PGA Champions Tour spokesman Jeff

Adams said.

Beyond the competition, the tournament is essentially a weeklong

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fundraiser for Hoag Hospital. Most of the money raised by the event

is earmarked for the hospital, and the Hoag Hospital Foundation is

the event's producer.

The last seven tournaments were also organized by the hospital,

and more than $6.7 million for charity was collected over those

years.

The only other event on the Champions Tour -- where all golfers

are age 50 or older -- that claims to have raised $1 million in a

single year is the 3M Championship in Minnesota, Adams said.

The bulk of the Toshiba Senior Classic's revenue comes from

sponsorships, tournament director Jeff Purcer said. The event rakes

in about $6 million gross revenue each year, and about 95% comes from

corporate sponsors.

Purcer would not disclose exactly how much the Irvine-based

Toshiba Digital Products Division has paid to be the tournament's

title sponsor for 11 years, but he said their annual contribution is

enough to cover the $2-million cost of the purse and television

coverage.

Purcer's year-round job is to line up sponsors for the tournament.

When negotiating with potential sponsors, he said his biggest selling

point is the popularity of Hoag Hospital.

"It seems like everyone you talk to has an experience there,"

Purcer said. "It's like they're alumni of Hoag Hospital."

The thought was echoed by Rhonda Richardson, sales and marketing

director of the Marriott Hotel Newport Beach, one of the tournament

sponsors.

"We've all been to Hoag," she said.

Beyond altruism, corporate sponsorships offer business people a

chance to network at tournament events and on the green.

"It's an opportunity to invite an awful lot of people," Hoag

Hospital Vice President Pete Foulke said.

Some sponsorships come with the chance to shoot golf at the

Newport Beach Country Club with tour players, or to play a full round

the Monday after the event, with the course still in its tournament

setup. During a professional match, the green is faster, the fairway

is smaller and the rough is rougher, Foulke said.

Outside of sponsorships, admissions are the "icing on the cake,"

Foulke said.

A boon to ticket revenues is the slate of golfers the tournament

draws. This year's field includes defending Toshiba Senior Classic

champion Tom Purtzer, and golfers Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Curtis

Strange, Tom Watson and Fuzzy Zoeller, who have won major events.

"The list of pros that the tournament draws is always a help,"

said Mark Simons, Toshiba Digital Products general manager. Simons

and Purcer agreed the event's Newport setting helps to draw

professionals.

The event also generates money for local hoteliers and

restaurateurs, Purcer said. He said tournament organizers have booked

3,000 hotel rooms for the event and estimated the tournament could

generate $1 million for local hotels and $750,000 for caterers and

entertainers.

"It brings that extra revenue to the hotel and to the city," said

Richard Gonzales, reservations manager at the Four Seasons Hotel

Newport Beach.

* ANDREW EDWARDS covers business and the environment. He can be

reached at (714) 966-4624 or by e-mail at andrew.edwards@latimes.com.

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