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MASTERCARD MAKES IT OFFICIAL WITH COLONIAL SPONSORSHIP
Published May 25, 1995
MasterCard International confirmed yesterday they will be title sponsor of the Colonial Invitiational PGA Tour thorugh the '98 event. As title sponsor of next year's event, MasterCard "will pay about half of the prize money ($1.4 million) and bankroll half of the 32 30-second spots run on the CBS broadcast." The package is estimated to be worth up to $3M, although details were not released. In return, MasterCard will get its name in all mentions of the tournament, a skybox hospitality room next to the 18th green, and "an unspecified number of spots in the pro-am tournament." PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said the search took almost two years. Finchem: "Ten years ago, a corporation's decision to sponsor a tournament would be made in about a week. Today, the process is much more laborious. Corporations want to examine every detail before they sign up" (Dan Piller, FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 5/25). THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL? With the signing of MasterCard, the Colonial becomes "another traditional title ... obscured for the stake of the corporate dollar," according to Steve Hershey in this morning's USA TODAY. The PGA Tour "is gaining corporate dollars but losing its history." PGA Tour Exec VP/Tournament Affairs Steve Rankin says that although the Tour has lost four sponsors in the last two years (Northern Telcom, Nestle, H-E-B, and Hardee's), they are "about where we normally are." Rankin: "There always is going to be some volatility with a couple of situations." But on the "brighter side," both the Motorola Western Open and The Memorial by Dean Witter have increased their purse to make their events more attractive. But now that $1.2- $1.5M purses "are commonplace, sponsor investments are leveling off -- and getting harder to find." Hershey notes that the New England Classic hasn't had a sponsor since '90, and the Bay Hill Club in Orlando is yet to replace Nestle, even with Arnold Palmer as a host (USA TODAY, 5/25).