The Kemper Open is expected to miss breaking even by more than $250,000 this year, even though tournament officials say ticket sales were up for the first three days and yesterday's final-round crowd appeared comparable to last year's 35,000.
But James Kemper Jr., chairman of the board of the sponsoring Kemper Group, said he couldn't be more pleased as the Kemper concludes its original four-year contract with Congressional Country Club. The contract recently was extended for two years.
"Looking back at four years, it's achieved our objective," Kemper said yesterday. "When we left Quail Hollow (in Charlotte, N.C.), we were pleased down there, but we had a widening deficit. Tournament sponsors will always have a deficit, so from a financial standpoint, the objective was to stabilize the deficit and . . . to increase our charity contribution."
The budget for the tournament is about $1,250,000, according to Steve Fine, director of advertising for the Kemper Group. Revenues include about $190,000 in television rights, $240,000 in program advertising and most of the rest in ticket sales.
Costs include $400,000 for prize money, a $250,000 fee (increasing to $300,000 next year) for use of Congressional, $110,000 for charity and the rest in administrative and entertainment costs.
But the cost of entertaining 250 to 300 independent insurance agents who are invited here is not paid for out of the budget, Kemper said.
The Kemper Group also buys eight minutes of commercial advertising on the two days of CBS' national television coverage of the tournament, at a cost of $60,000 per minute.
Of the $300,000 deficit and all those 30-second commericials for $30,000 each, Kemper said, "It's an excellent advertising and marketing investment. On television we reach our target audience--the upper-middle class--for products we sell, which are insurance and financial services. And it's an absolutely ideal place to bring agents and clients. They're independent agents, so we're competing within their agencies for clients . . .
"It's a good buy. We get name recognition and brand-name recognition. We're getting more back for the bucks we spend than any other insurance company."
The out-of-pocket cost for the Kemper "isn't a great deal more than when it started" 16 years ago in Sutton, Mass., Kemper said. The tournament moved to Charlotte the following year.
In four years here, the Kemper will have contributed $430,000 to national and local charities, significantly more than it did in 11 years at Quail Hollow, where the charity contribution was $25,000 the last year. There, the club fee was $150,000 and the largest purse $350,000.