SBD/Issue 163/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

AT&T Classic's Title Sponsor Search Hindered By Economy

Downturn In Economy Affecting Atlanta PGA
Tour Stop's Efforts To Land New Title Sponsor
The PGA Tour AT&T Classic's effort to land a title sponsor has been "hampered by the downturn in the economy and by the reversal of fortunes of many companies that might otherwise jump at the chance to put their name on the event," according to David Markiewicz of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. AT&T in November announced that it will drop its title sponsorship of the tournament at the TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Georgia, after this weekend's event, and if no sponsor is found soon to spend "about $7[M] a year for five years, plus related marketing costs," the tournament "could disappear." While there is "no drop-dead date to find a sponsor," the PGA Tour will release its '09 schedule in November, and a company "needs to be found before then." Tournament Dir Dave Kaplan and other officials since January have "contacted 149 companies, made presentations to 23 and formal proposals to seven." Five of those prospects are "still classified as 'active,' meaning that one might agree to serve as title sponsor." Local companies that have passed on the sponsorship include Coca-Cola, UPS and Georgia-Pacific (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/14). Kaplan: "We have not been given any hard and fast deadline. There is some point where if we do not have [a sponsor], the PGA Tour has to go on and do their business." The ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE's John Manasso notes the PGA Tour PODS Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida, is in a "similar situation," as it still is without a title sponsor for '09. If one or both of the tournaments "cannot find a sponsor in time, it will lose its date, and the Tour will select a tournament that already has a sponsor from its Fall Series to move up." The Valero Texas Open in San Antonio would be the "first tournament in line" (ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE, 5/9 issue).

NOT GOING ANYWHERE: HP yesterday agreed to acquire EDS for $13.9B, but EDS CEO Ron Rittenmeyer said that EDS will "continue to be the main sponsor" of the PGA Tour Byron Nelson Championship (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/14).

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