Recession slashes Masters ticket prices
Kristi E. Swartz,
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
April 6, 2009
The tickets have long been sold.
And Washington Road in Augusta was bumper-to-bumper on Monday with state troopers parked at every intersection.
But does that really mean that Masters Golf Tournament is recession-proof?
Online ticket resellers such as StubHub say otherwise.
Average ticket prices are down 30-to-40 percent from a year ago. A single ticket for Thursdayâ€™s opening round is at $727 this year, whereas fans paid an average $1,173 a year ago.
A two-day package for Saturday and Sunday averages $1,457 right now. A year ago, the price averaged $2,162.
â€œIn the ticket market, prices are a function of supply and demand,â€ said Mike Janes, the chief executive officer of FanSnap, a search engine for tickets. â€œBoth of those are not working.â€
The Masters typically is a $100 million economic engine for Augusta, bringing in big sponsors and millions of eyes to the Georgia town of 200,000.
But what has been one of Georgiaâ€™s greenest parties for years â€” on the course and off â€” may be dulled this year. Hoteliers and restaurant owners have braced for less, though some said they have seen a last-minute surge.
â€œI was worried yesterday, no one was coming in, and we still wound up being up a little, like $500,â€ said Todd Stawicki, manager of the Hooters on Washington Road, the same street asAugusta National Golf Club.
â€œThatâ€™s the way it is right now. If youâ€™re flat, youâ€™re not getting hurt.â€
Stawicki said he usually gets six-to-seven times the amount of business during Masters week compared to the rest of the year.
Diane Starr and Karl Kwoka are feeling the pinch, too. Starr, president of real estate agency Corporate Quarters, expects luxury rentals to fetch less this year than during past tournaments, while Kwoka, a caterer, has seen an estimated $70,000 in cancellations from corporate clients.
Starrâ€™s company expects to rent about 300 homes, instead of 400 â€” and at deep discounts. Lavish party homes that usually fetch $25,000 for tournament week have had price tags slashed to as low as $16,000, Starr said.
Steven Freund, general manager of the swank Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Plantation, said people began booking at the hotel, but only days before the tournament. Normally the hotel is booked three to four weeks in advance.
â€œWeâ€™re very pleased at the way our business has picked up,â€ said Freund, whose golf resort is about 65 minutes west of Augusta. The Ritz is booked anywhere from 70 percent to 90 percent for the tournament.
This is not to say all Masters-related indicators have wained.
Golf balls were already collecting by Monday around Bobby Jonesâ€™s grave at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, convention officials said. Itâ€™s a tradition among golfers to visit the resting place of the founder of the Masters.
Still, itâ€™s not a normal year.
Though the storied event is sold out, experts said the normally strong ticket re-sale market is off considerably.
â€œYou donâ€™t have the big money people chasing after the tickets,â€ Janes said.
Janes said last week he was monitoring 14 ticket sites to see how Mastersâ€™ badges were selling. Late last week, 373 badges, starting at $500, were available for Thursdayâ€™s round. For Saturday, 500 were available.
â€œWhat that means to me is that if those people want to move those badges, they are going to have to drop those prices,â€ he said.
Staff writer Thomas Stinson and the Associated Press contributed to this article.