Griffin has things in hand
The MSG president, her staff are running ’09 Women’s Open.
LA JOLLA, Calif. | On the day before the opening round of the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Mimi Griffin was rushing around the golf course, preparing for an onslaught of fans and clients.
Two men approached Griffin, the owner of the Bethlehem-based MSG Promotions, Inc., eager to know how they could purchase a U.S. Open hospitality tent — for the Olympic Club in 2012, that is.
“It’s amazing how far in advance everybody plans,” Griffin said later.
Include Griffin in that group.
She and 30 members of her staff worked from about 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day last week, running 63 hospitality tents at Torrey Pines. The company has a contract with the United States Golf Association to sell, build and oversee corporate hospitality at the annual U.S. Open, including next year’s event at Bethpage in Farm- ingdale, N.Y.
But those duties don’t prevent Griffin and her energetic staff from looking toward one particular week they have circled on their calendar — July 6-12, 2009, the U.S. Women’s Open at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem. The tournament presents a new challenge for MSG Promo- tions, because Griffin’s company is overseeing the entire event — from hospi- tality to volunteers to ticket sales.
“It’s a big, once-in-a-decade opportunity to put our best foot forward,” Griffin said, referring not just to her business, but to the Lehigh Valley in general.
For that reason, she and her employees take each step with 2009 in mind. They want next year’s Women’s Open to rival the atmo- sphere of the men’s version — particularly in terms of corporate hospitality, com- munity enthusiasm and participation.
Their company will be running everything — or so it seems — at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open at Saucon Valley Country Club.
Their first task, of course, is making sure people — even those who don’t follow golf — understand the magnitude of the event.
“This is worth planning for,” Griffin said, motioning toward thousands of specta- tors who were walking around Torrey Pines last Wednesday. “If you’re just here as a fan, this is an awesome experience and one you certainly don’t have every day.”
The company’s Web site, www.msgpromotions.com, offers details about various hospitality options — from tables to tents to skyboxes (something the men’s tour- ney doesn’t have). There’s a link for ticket buyers as well, and prices are lower for those who purchase them by June 30 of this year. For example, a final- round ticket is $30 now and will go up to $45 on July 1; a
championship week pack- age is currently $110 and will increase to $130 on July 1.
Griffin said those dates are firm, a way to thank those who act early. Still, selling tickets is only the beginning, said Jeanne Tay- lor.
“The one nice thing about corporate hospitality is it appeals to every busi- ness,” said Taylor, MSG’s executive vice president. “You can get a tent for a single day or all week.
“We have a whole mar- keting program to appeal to people in their 20s and 30s. It’s going to be the greatest bar in Bethlehem for that week. We have kids’ initia- tives. The event is for every- body.”
When it comes to the advertising campaign, Grif- fin plans to give a glimpse of what the golfers are like
as individuals. Then there’s the adopt-a-player program for children.
“It’s third- and fourth- graders from schools in the Lehigh Valley,” said market- ing account executive Emily Geosits, a graduate of Em- maus High and Lehigh. “We’re trying to create a pen-pal relationship with players from the U.S. Open.
“When the kids come to the Open, they’ll wear a colored shirt [to represent] their player. Hopefully, if we get enough, there will be a sea of color on the course.”
And, with just over a year to go, Geosits said the staff has a sense of urgency.
One group is headed to next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Interlachen Coun- try Club in Edina, Minn. The idea, as always, is to keep the best ideas they see and come up with new
options as well. Taylor also plans to attend Musikfest this summer — not so much for the music, she said, but to learn more about local food favorites, vendors and pricing.
Next year’s tournament will differ from the men’s version in certain obvious ways. Taylor pointed to a 39,000-square foot merchan- dise tent at Torrey Pines and said the one at Saucon Valley will be about 14,000 square feet. But Griffin said the overall “quality” of the event will be consistent with what fans expect from the men’s tournament.
“We want people to wear the U.S. Women’s Open logo and just have a great time when they come out,” Taylor said. “It’s always on our mind.”