The search is over for a title sponsor of the LPGA’s first major of the season.
The new backer was announced Tuesday at the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida.
“When visiting mission hills there’s always a chance of a water landing,” joked a pilot in a special video played at the press conference. “Today we’re announcing ANA as the new title partner.”
All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s leading airline, commits more than $20 million over the next five years. The hope is to expand its influence to the millions of LPGA viewers around the world.
“Our global television footprint, I mean we’re in 275 million homes around the world,” said Gabe Codding, the tournament’s director. “So it’s a very attractive opportunity for a global company.”
More specifically, an Asian company. More than half of the top-ranked players on the LPGA tour are from Asia, and playing (or advertising) here helps the Coachella Valley soar into international spotlight.
“They would be interested in coming where their city is represented and I also think other people would come,” said Anne Burden, a golfer from Toronto.
“All those households see us when we’re at our very best in April; beautiful grass, blue sky and they’re chilly and they’re thinking me? There,” said Robert Barrett, marketing director for the city of Rancho Mirage.
Barrett says the city depends on tourism for nearly a third of its annual budget, and hopes the tournament’s new sponsor will take the event to new heights the way BNP Paribas did in Indian Wells.
“When BNP Paribas took over the tennis tournament everybody was like oh how could we let this happen,” Barrett recalled. “But now we have another international company. They will create great excitement in Asia.”
“And having that footprint in Asia will absolutely boost hospitality,” Codding said.