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Greenbrier Classic offers lower-priced badge

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va.  — One of the big changes heading into the fifth edition of  the PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic is the ticket prices. Instead of having to dish out $159 for a badge that includes all of the concerts and seven days of golf, as was the case in the past, golf fans now have the opportunity to chose one concert — Maroon 5 or Jimmy Buffett — and secure a ticket for $60.

“There’s a lot of people hurting today,” said Greenbrier owner and tournament chairman Jim Justice. “A ticket price of $159 is pretty ambitious. There’s a lot of stuff that comes with it. You get two wonderful concerts and golf for seven days. But somebody might want to come to just one concert. So if we price it at $60, everybody can come. That seems better to me.”

Justice said sales have been going great, but he admits the ticket prices haven’t thrilled the number crunchers.

“We don’t want to talk about the bottom line; trust me,” said Justice. “Our attendance is unbelievable, and we derive a lot of income from our attendance. Our sponsorships our unbelievable, and we derive a lot of income from them, as well. But at the end of the day, the two ends don’t meet. There’s a shortfall, and that’s where we come into play as the title sponsor.”

Justice estimated that a normal PGA Tour FedEx Cup event costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $9-12 million. Golf’s four majors — the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship — cost an estimated $18-19 million. The budget for the 2014 Greenbrier Classic will be $23.5 million.

“It costs money to do it to the level we’re doing it,” said Justice. “If you just looked at the economics, you’d want to charge the people $500 to come instead of $60. Lowering the price is a detriment to the bottom line. But that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about exposure for our state and a great time for our people.

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