SBD/Issue 88/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Keep Hope Alive: Bob Hope Classic Set To Tee Sans Title Sponsor

This year's PGA Tour Bob Hope Classic, which is tees off today, marks the first time in 25 years the event will take place without Chrysler as its title sponsor, according to Larry Bohannan of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. Chrysler annually pumped "millions of dollars ... into the tournament to cover costs of the purse, television production and other tournament activities." But Bob Hope Classic Chair & President John Foster said that Chrysler's absence "will be felt more in the tournament boardroom than on the course itself." Foster: "There is an obvious financial impact by not having them here, and that's obviously important. But that said, yeah, we'll keep going. We've got the reserves to do it." Event officials said that they had "built up sufficient cash reserves to keep the tournament going through 2010 and 2011 without the help of a title sponsor." But Bohannan notes the "millions of dollars in reserves still must be augmented by smaller sponsorships to help cover the costs of running the tournament and also maintain the event's purpose as a nonprofit organization, distributing funds to a variety of desert charities." The tournament did sign a "small deal" with Under Armour this year to sponsor a "new fan-friendly viewing experience at the par-3 17th hole of the Palmer Course at PGA West." Fans wearing Under Armour apparel Saturday "will receive free admission to the course" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 1/20).

IN THE ROUGH: Many golfers are opting to play in the European PGA Tour's Abu Dhabi Championship this week instead of the Bob Hope Classic, and's Rex Hoggard said, "They're all independent contractors. They can play where they want, but this one hurts a little bit." Hoggard: "You have [PGA Tour Commissioner] Tim Finchem in what is basically a contract year. He is going to corporate America with hat in hand trying to get title sponsors to sign on, and you have players like Anthony Kim ... who are going overseas to play during what is actually his hometown event at PGA West." Mike Weir, who is ranked No. 37, is the highest-ranked golfer at the Hope, and author John Feinstein noted the tournament is "on life support." Feinstein: "It has no title sponsor and it isn't even on network TV anymore. ... The Hope deserves some protection and some respect, not 11 guys being told they can go flying for dollars" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 1/19).

SUNNY OUTLOOK: Farmers Insurance Monday announced it will title sponsor the PGA Tour's San Diego stop next week, and Farmers Insurance Senior VP Mark Toohey said that a "preliminary deal was struck over the weekend and only became official Monday morning." Toohey: "This thing came together quickly, but the pieces fit. It is a unique deal, and the stars just aligned on this one." In California, Marc Figueroa writes the deal "certainly brings a silver lining to the dark cloud that had been hovering over the tournament for the last year" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 1/20). Meanwhile, in San Diego, Tod Leonard reports the Padres and Century Club of San Diego today will announce a partnership in which the team will underwrite "military appreciation activities" during next week's event. This comes after the event this year lost its sponsor for its military pavilion and "was set to move forward with private donations." The Padres will "underwrite much of the pavilion costs," and Padres players will make appearances at the pavilion (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/20).

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