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Old Mar 2nd, 2003, 06:37 PM   #1
Bonnard
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Pacific Life Open: Bouncing back

INDIAN WELLS -- A series of events outside of their control left the 2002 Pacific Life Open in the red for just the second time since 1984.

Without any sponsors or promising prospects, tournament official Raymond Moore called those days dark and depressing.

Armed one year later with a solid title sponsor, the Pacific Life Open finds itself back on the road toward fulfilling its ambitious dreams.

"We’re what I call stable," said Charlie Pasarell, the tournament director and business partner with Moore in the ownership of the tournament. "We still have some growth to do and we still have some work ahead of us, but we’re in a pretty stable position right now."

Although the tournament lost a considerable yet unspecified amount of money in 2002, Pasarell said a strong reserve and record-setting attendance softened economic consequences.

Also easing the blow was the tournament’s ability to sign Pacific Life as a title sponsor and the city of Indian Wells as a presenting sponsor, less than three months before the 2002 tournament.

This year’s event, which begins Monday with women’s qualifying, has added other sponsors, including Mercedes-Benz, Fila, Aero Mexico, Penn, Bank of America and Michelob Ultra.

"We’re not looking at making any kind of profit, but we should pay the bills and we’re in OK shape," Pasarell said. "Obviously, with Pacific Life’s involvement, we will be able to grow over the years and get some other sponsors."

In addition, the tournament intends to reinvest in the event to enrich the experience for fans.

New this year, the tournament added The Garden Club, an upscale dining area for box holders.

Next season, the tournament will expand its men’s field from a 64-player to a 96-player draw similar to the women and will guarantee to increase prize money by $1.5 million over the next six years.

"We’re in for a period of growth starting this year," Moore said. "Then we’re in for a bonanza next year with the men starting at the same time with the women."

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