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July 10, 2008
PHIL WEIDINGER: Good morning, everybody. Thanks for joining us. This is, if you haven't heard, the 19th Annual American Century Championship. This started back in 1990, we were all a few years younger, obviously. I don't know if we looked any better, but we were a little bit younger.
Anyway, we have the principals here today that are going to discuss the future of this event and where we're going.
I'd like to introduce the panel up front. Mr. Gary Quinn, from NBC Sports, Director of Business Development. From American Century, Mark Killen, Chief Marketing Officer. From Park Cattle Company, the owners of Edgewood Tahoe, Brad Nelson, President and CEO. And from Harrah's/Harveys, Ward Bullard, Vice President of Marketing. And Carol Chaplin, Executive Director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.
Gary, I'd like to turn it over to you for a historical perspective of this event.
GARY QUINN: It's a pleasure to be here. It's nice to have good news announcements happy to announce we're moving the event to Maui. I'm only kidding (laughter).
We started this event 19 years ago, as Phil said, and it's hard to believe we're actually contemplating a 20th anniversary logo for next year's event.
We've come so far. We had a meeting the other day to culminate this partnership with the community. And we were talking to Bobbie King, easy to say, in the first year we thought this thing ever had a chance. We didn't have any sponsors. Caesars put us up, gave us some rooms. And Edgewood took a chance on us. And here we are, because this man next to me (referring to Mark Killen), just an unbelievable partner.
I think as time, if you look at a time line of the event and a history of it, we kind of had our bumps in the road. We've kind of learned together what to do better as each year progresses and we've taken small steps forward.
But as soon as American Century came on board 10 years ago, they've elevated this event to one of the best entertainment vehicles in golf. We like to say it's the most recognizable field in golf.
And thanks to them we were able to be up here last year to announce that we extended our partnership with them through 2012. And as soon as that, after the event ended last year, we talked to Brad. And we talked to Carol and the folks at Harrah's and said: Look, we did the extension about 18 months ago with the hotel and the community. We would really like to marry up the extension that we have with American Century to get everybody on the same page through 2012.
We had some preliminary meetings over the phone in the off season. We were able to sit down on Monday with Jon Miller, my boss, Carol, Brad, and the folks at Harrah's. And unanimously, let's do it.
So we're thrilled to announce that we're going to be here through 2012 at least, if I have my way, until I'm 95 years old and in a walker. So I'll turn it over to Phil.
PHIL WEIDINGER: Thank you, Gary. What we'll do, we'll have the different folks here make a few comments, then open it up for questions for the media if we would.
Mark Killen, American Century. Mark, welcome back.
MARK KILLEN: Thank you, Phil, very much. Thank you, Gary. You guys at NBC are terrific partners for us, and we sure love coming here every year.
This is our tenth year as title sponsor of the American Century Championships. It's really a great year because it also happens to coincide with our 50th anniversary as a company.
And if you know anything about American Century Investments, you would know we stand for great performance and building long-term client relationships. And this is a fantastic venue to celebrate both those things.
We get outstanding performances on the golf course, certainly in the evening with our entertainment. And this provides a venue for us to build relationships with our clients and future prospects that is unrivaled in the industry.
So it's an outstanding place for us to be. We feel incredibly welcomed by the community, the LTVA, Harrah's and certainly the folks here at Edgewood.
So it's been outstanding for us. Part of our title role here is certainly to celebrate the performance that we see out on the course, but it's also to give back. We believe strongly that great success can also lead to great deeds, and that's in fact what we try and do every year.
So in the course of the 10 years we've been involved, we've contributed over $2 million to worthy causes. And this marks our third consecutive year putting money toward the Lance Armstrong Foundation to help them with their fight against cancer.
We're really thrilled about that. And thank you for all your support as a press community because it really helps get the word out and helps us raise funds for this great cause and bring people to this wonderful event.
So thank you very much.
PHIL WEIDINGER: Brad Nelson from Edgewood Tahoe, Park Cattle Company, which owns Edgewood Tahoe. Brad.
BRAD NELSON: Thanks, and I'd like to welcome everybody back to the 19th year to Edgewood. On behalf of Park Cattle Company and our owner family, the Park family, we're really thrilled we could offer to be the host course for another at least three years and maybe longer, as Gary says.
Of course, we've been owners of this land for over 110 years, and it's logical that we should stay involved for a long time. We're really pleased. The effort that our staff, Bobbie King, and the people here at Edgewood Tahoe put in is just phenomenal, we think it's a great thing for us to continue and particularly help the whole South Lake Tahoe community and the Tahoe region, because it's important to us and what happens here and it puts us on the front cover of a lot of things what a great place this is one of the prettiest places to come and particularly to play golf.
We're happy to be a part of this. And we look forward to our continuing relationship with all the co-sponsors. Phil, thank you.
PHIL WEIDINGER: Carol Chaplin, Executive Director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.
CAROL CHAPLIN: Good morning and welcome back to Lake Tahoe. As was mentioned before, it's one of the most beautiful places. And I have the opportunity to represent this great destination and also to extend my thanks to our partners and also just express my excitement about this relationship going forward to 2012.
This is really one of the premiere events that happens in Lake Tahoe in the course of our year. And it really brings 20,000 people to our community in July. It benefits our businesses, our lodging properties, our restaurants. We get an opportunity to showcase exactly what's so special about this place to visit and to live here.
And we get to extend our hospitality to the great players that come and also to our various partners here. So I want to just express our excitement about this and look forward to seeing you all in the future and make this your second home.
PHIL WEIDINGER: Thanks, Carol. Ward Bullard, Harrah's/Harveys.
WARD BULLARD: I think, to echo Carol's comments, this is an exemplary group of organizations that really come together with terrific collaboration to put on a world-class event that showcases the beauty of Lake Tahoe.
And we as Harrah's and Harveys are just proud to be the host hotel for this event. This is our fourth year. We look forward to additional years. This is just a great opportunity for us to showcase our expertise in casino hospitality and entertainment and we have a great lineup for not only the clients of American Century, but also some of the community leaders as well as some of our great customers.
So this is a model event, and we look forward to many more years partnering with the people up here.
PHIL WEIDINGER: What we'd like to do is turn this over to the media folks to ask their questions. I'm going to pass this microphone around. So if you could speak into that, ask your question, identify yourself and your outlet and direct your question to whomever.
Q. Carol, this is for you. Can you tell me what the economic impact is of this tournament and where that ranks in events at South Tahoe?
CAROL CHAPLIN: I don't know that I have a total economic statement, but I would say that it really ranks as number one.
This is a six-day event for us, and it really -- I mean it has so much more impact than just the six days that it goes on. Because of the television coverage and because of the notoriety of the event and, of course, what you do over the next months with this event, it really is, I think, in my mind, the number one event that we produce in the year. And it has a shelf life that goes from July to July.
Q. Carol, we met some people from Dallas, Texas, a couple who came up with their son to play in the event out here today. Do you know how many people come from, say, far away to just play in the event out here, in the amateur event?
CAROL CHAPLIN: The amateur event, I'm not -- we had 16 teams.
Q. The Pro-Am. I'm curious how many people come from long distances to play in the Pro-Am?
CAROL CHAPLIN: I would say more than half. I would say almost three-quarters. Phil, wouldn't you agree with that? We're getting some nods here.
GARY QUINN: Most of our guests -- Mark could speak to this -- he's based in Kansas City. He has clients all over the country that come to the event. And that holds true for our other sponsors as well. And obviously a lot of people vacation from Sacramento, the LA, San Francisco area to drive here to attend the event.
I think you've got a good cross-section of the country represented here as guests.
CAROL CHAPLIN: What's interesting, though, we have a lot of repeat players. They look forward to coming back year after year. And our deputy director, Sue Barton, has developed some relationships specifically with these folks and knows their families and what they like to eat in the morning.
And so we've developed quite a long-standing relationship with some of these players that come.
Q. Gary, this event is now in its 19th year. How many other sporting events have been on NBC for, or on NBC for 19 years or longer?
GARY QUINN: This is made-for-TV event, started from scratch. And one of the longest made-for-TV events, maybe second to the Skins game. But we've had Wimbledon for 30 years, and French Open probably for about that long. But this ranks right up there as one of the longest, most successful events that we have at NBC sports history. It's a pretty remarkable story.
MARK KILLEN: I was going to comment on the Pro-Am. I don't think there's a single player at least from the American Century Investment side, that is from the Reno/Lake Tahoe area. So all of the players we've brought in are from outside this area, and they love to come here every year.
They start calling us right after they get home to see when is the event next year. So we bring in two to 300 clients from all over the United States to this beautiful venue.
And I would say it's almost 100 percent in the Pro-Am, at least from our perspective, that are from outside this area.
PHIL WEIDINGER: Ward, I know that the sports book has some odds that are available for folks, talking about economic impact.
WARD BULLARD: I think we had a note, a $5 bet on Mr. Barkley at 750-to-1 odds to win the tournament. I'm not sure it's a huge volume of activity at the book, but obviously a lot of the celebrities definitely like the visit the book and see what their odds are and certainly horse trade with some of their friends to see why they are positioned where they are on the board.
PHIL WEIDINGER: I know that last year, attendance set a new mark with over 27,000 for the week. And from what I've heard so far, the counts, and numbers I saw from yesterday, and a few years' experience out here, there was a lot of people out here. I don't know what the prospect is. What are you thinking, Gary, as far as the rest of the week?
GARY QUINN: We obviously hammer it home regionally on KRNV and KCRA a month and a half in advance. The people know the event's here now. And it's a marquee event. It's a destination event, destination vacation event. As you saw yesterday, I've never seen that many people for a practice round on a Wednesday.
So it seems like it's getting a day earlier every year where things just, the foot traffic keeps increasing. And you know what we're just going to keep -- we're going to keep shouting from the mountain top to keep coming, because it's not a hard place to convince people to come to.
If I may, Phil, I just wanted to -- I'm really grateful to the folks in this little cubby here, because our mission statement, as soon as I get home on Monday I start working on next year's event. And our team does. And this is a labor of love for us.
And it's really, really gratifying and I'm very grateful that we have a team in place with all these people here, each and every one has the same mission statement. And that's why this event's going to be here, I think, for many, many years.
And we're not going to rest on our success. The minute we do that is the minute that this thing starts to suffer and goes away. And we're going to do everything we can to ensure that doesn't happen.
And it's reassuring to me to have these people behind us, because I think we're positioned for future growth in a big way.
PHIL WEIDINGER: Any secrets for the 20th anniversary yet?
GARY QUINN: We've got people jumping out of cakes (laughter). There's going to be all kinds of stuff.
We'll have some fun next year, and we haven't gotten that far yet. But give me until Monday and we'll start talking about it.
Q. I was wondering how the TV ratings, have they increased over the years?
GARY QUINN: Our TV ratings, the weekend that we're up against, we're up against the John Deere Classic, I believe, and a PGA TOUR event. And our numbers are equitable if not exceed the PGA TOUR on this weekend. So that speaks volumes for, again, a made-for-television event.
I think if you look from top to bottom, from one to 83, and you look from top to bottom at a PGA TOUR event, we probably have a more recognizable field from top to bottom.
And so I think that we're actually as part of the 20th year, that might be our new moto, that we have the most recognizable field in golf. People like watching it. They like to see the Michael Jordans and Barkleys and Ray Romanos out of their element and trying to do what they do every day to better their handicap.
And we have a lot of fun. And I think that people -- it's an entertaining show but, yet, it's serious golf and people keep getting better. Tony Romo could have shot a 64 yesterday in his practice round. So he's legit. I expect him to be in the top five. So that will probably attract more attention as well. It's good stuff.
PHIL WEIDINGER: Brad, I noticed that as a participant here at Edgewood throughout the rest of the year, I know a lot of folks that come out to play, come into the pro shop and they say, hey, the reason I'm here is because I saw the event on TV; I've got to check this course out. I don't know if there's any stats or figures or anything like that, but it seems to be a pretty healthy number of people that come in every year with that comment.
BRAD NELSON: That's right, Phil. We get people all year long, even when the course is closed, if they happen to be here for skiing even in South Lake Tahoe. They'll come in have dinner and say is your retail shop open, can we get a shirt or hat.
I think last year the week after the tournament we got a call from Australia, and they wanted to know if they could get some merchandise or possibly if they're in the states they'd like to book a tee time here. So it really gets the word out on Edgewood and South Lake Tahoe. So we're pleased.
PHIL WEIDINGER: Now that we know Romo could have shot 64, we better hit that sports book quick. I don't know what his odds are, but they're going down fast. Anyway, thank you all very much. We appreciate it.
End of FastScripts