SBD/Issue 205/Events & Attractions

Stricker, Kelly Working To Find Title Sponsor For PGA Tour Event

Kelly Says A Potential Title Sponsor Very
Interested, But Will Not Identify Company
While PGA Tour and U.S. Bank Championship officials are "seemingly making little progress in their desperate search for a title sponsor" for the event, golfers and Wisconsin natives Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly, "acting on their own, say they are close to not only saving the tournament but turning it into a marquee event," according to Gary D'Amato of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Kelly said that they approached PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem with their plan at the Memorial Tournament in May and Finchem "wholeheartedly endorsed it." PGA Tour Exec VP & Chief of Operations Rick George: "They've got a concept in mind. I think it's doable and possible. It would take a lot of work and a lot of logistics and coordination, but we've got a lot of options on the table." Stricker: "We've talked to enough people around that I think it's going to work." Stricker added that the "key to the plan was a new date for the Milwaukee tournament." D'Amato noted this weekend marks the third straight year the U.S. Bank Championship has been held opposite the British Open, and it has been "poorly attended and has lost several ancillary sponsors in addition to U.S. Bank," which is in its last year title sponsoring the event. However, in order to get a new date, raise the purse and return to coverage on network TV, Kelly and Stricker "would have to deliver a major title sponsor." Kelly said that a "potential title sponsor was very interested, but he wouldn't identify the company." Kelly: "I don't think sponsorship is a roadblock at the moment. Our proposal will sell itself. It's a beautiful thing." Tournament Dir Dan Croak: "Our position is we're working with the Tour to identify companies, both locally and nationally, that would be potential replacements for U.S. Bank as the title sponsor" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/12).

TITLE SPONSOR CRITICAL TO SUCCESS: The BUSINESS JOURNAL OF MILWAUKEE's Rich Kirchen reports attracting a new title sponsor "will determine the long-term viability of Milwaukee's PGA tourney." Croak said, "We need to find a title sponsor. That funding is essential for us to continue." He added that tournament organizer Milwaukee Golf Charities and the PGA Tour have "pursued a new sponsor in recent months, but none is close to signing." George said that PGA Tour officials are "spearheading the effort to attract a title sponsor." George: "We're bullish. We feel we're doing everything we can in this environment to find suitable replacements." Kirchen notes an alternative to securing a single title sponsor "would be to assemble a group of sponsors that each spend a smaller amount but still meet the tourney's funding needs." Croak and PGA Tour officials said that they "haven't ruled that out as a stopgap measure." The Milwaukee Golf Charities contract with the PGA Tour runs through '12 (BUSINESS JOURNAL OF MILWAUKEE, 7/10 issue).

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