|Verizon Heritage Has Generated About
$300,000 In New Business This Year
The PGA Tour Verizon Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, which teed off today, is "not exempt from the economic flu that has staggered the country," according to Ron Green Jr. of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Tournament Dir Steve Wilmot: "I felt like we were going to be OK. We're the biggest sports event in South Carolina. But it's worse than I anticipated. No question." Wilmot said that numbers are "down about 20[%]." But the "good news is the tournament has generated about $300,000 in new business and there's reason to believe Verizon is interested in extending its title sponsorship beyond 2010, when the contract ends." Hilton Head "draws most of its spectator traffic from visitors rather than locals." The town "will likely rebound next year and beyond but, for now, it's different." There are not "as many skyboxes, which means catering is down which means you can follow the dominoes from there." Golfer Steve Flesch said, "Maybe we need to be more approachable, maybe we need to go to more sponsor tents after the rounds. We need to do the little things that make us more attractive and help the sponsors justify the money they're spending." Meanwhile, Green noted after giving "approximately $1.8[M] to charity each of the past two years," Wilmot said that the Heritage Classic Foundation "will generate approximately $1[M] for charity this year." Wilmot: "Despite everything, we're going to have a great week here. The eyes of the world will be on us and we're one of 40-some PGA Tour events in the world. But it just goes to show that nobody is protected" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/15
SUPPORT SYSTEM: PGA Tour Exec VP & Chief of Operations Rick George said that the "inability to secure a title sponsor after this year's" St. Jude Classic "could put the longstanding Memphis event in jeopardy." George: "It's hard to run a tournament without the title sponsor. It's such an important component of the model we have to fund the tournaments." George added, "We are in the initial phase of identifying and talking, initially, to prospects and we'll develop our strategies before moving forward." The PGA Tour has held an event in the city for 51 consecutive years, and George said, "We want to be here for 51 more, but we've got some challenges ahead of us. We really need the community to step up more than ever to support the event. ... We need everything from volunteer support, to people buying tickets to corporations stepping up and buying packages" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 4/16).