One of the most prestigious tournaments in golf is just two weeks away. Yes, the Masters’ Championship. The Masters’ is historically known as the only major tournament that is held on the same golf course, same city, and at the same time of year. However, this will be the first time in 77 years that the traditional statement will not hold for the Masters’. Needless to say, sports fans around the world cannot complain because the tournament has been rescheduled and will be held on the weekend of November 12th. However, will the tournament look and feel the same this year? Below I examine the revenue structure, economic implications, ticketing issues, and the overall feel of the course without fans.
With the resurgence of COVID-19 around the world and most notably in the United States, the 2020 Masters’ Tournament will not host any fans this year. Thus, continuing to fit the common theme for most of the PGA this season with many silent tournaments and not much cheering from the live gallery. Therefore, sports fans watching from home and players on the course have become accustom to this environment. However, on the other side of the coin, the Masters’ supports economic stability in local communities besides just the traditional ticketing revenue for the PGA and course.
Revenue at the Masters
In 2017 the Masters’ generated around $115 million in revenue. This amount includes around; 47 million from merchandise, 25 million international TV rights, 35 million from tickets, and 8 million from concessions (SnackMedia). To further add, the Masters’ and course August National does not record any domestic TV revenue. Each year a one year contract is signed between CBS and August National in which neither party makes money from domestic TV rights. As one could imagine, the revenue that would be made through domestic TV rights would be huge. Therefore, knowing that the environment without fans and TV right structure in the United States, the revenue impacts will be very large and will only include international TV rights and some merchandise bought online.
Implication on the Community
Furthermore, it is said that the revenue merchants and small business’ in Georgia earn about the same amount in 7 days as they would in a whole month. Therefore, many retail shops call the Masters’ week the “13th month in the year”. Therefore, with no fans and a tight leash on players leaving the course, small businesses will be affected greatly. In addition, many residential homes in the area rely on renting their homes for Airbnb type services or renting out lawn space for parking. These additional funds usually help with paying down a mortgage, college tuition or to make renovations. Most importantly, the goal of the locals is to usually leave town as the prices for restaurants and other consumer shops skyrockets during the week (NY Post).
Ticketing Structure Resulting in No Refunds
Unlike other sporting events, the Masters has a different approach when supplying tickets (what they call badges). Due to the prestige of the tournament tickets are only sent to the spectator about a week in advance of the tournament and only purchased a few weeks / months beforehand. In a sports economics sense, due to the limited window of availability, the secondary ticket brokers will take orders months ahead and then auction off tickets to customers with very deep pockets. In terms of a price range, a four-day badge was trading around $9,000-$10,000 USD months before the Masters. However, in March of 2020 the badges were only going for around $4,000-$5,000 USD as spectators were more concerned about the virus and unsure as to how much they wanted to pay. Therefore, knowing this, it could take a while for the price of the badges to go up as fans are more nervous about attending these types of events. To further add, the problem now is that any spectators who purchased 2020 Masters’ tickets cannot be refunded as the brokers don’t have the cash to refund (Sportico). Since the tickets were bought by brokers month’s before, most have already unloaded the cash and don’t have the funds to reimburse the spectators who already purchased the tickets. The brokers did however give spectators the ability to use the ticket passes for the Masters’ 2021 tournament, which some have chosen to accept.
Environment at Augusta National
Finally, without fans cheering on the best professional golfers around the course it is challenging for the golfers to really feel the sense of competition. At the Masters’ in particular it is common for groups to know how well the competition is doing based on the crowds and cheers that occur on other holes. While we must accept that the reality of sports has changed for the short-term, it will be different not having the same crowd follow around the lead group on Sunday of the Masters’.
Cormack, J. (2017, April 13). The Business Behind the Masters: Sacrificing Money for Fans. Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://www.snack-media.com/2017/04/the-business-behind-the-masters-sacrificing-money-for-fans/
Sportico. (2020, August 15). The Masters Sans Galleries Will Result in $50-$100 Million Revenue Loss for Secondary Market Stakeholders. Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://www.sportico.com/leagues/golf/2020/no-fans-the-masters-secondary-market-revenue-loss-1234611025/
Stanley, A. (2020, October 30). 2020 Masters Preview. Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://www.globalgolf.ca/articles/2020-masters-preview/
Willis, G. (2020, April 09). The other story of a postponed Masters: ‘An economic disaster’. Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://nypost.com/2020/04/09/the-other-story-of-a-postponed-masters-an-economic-disaster/