SBD/March 1, 2011/Events and Attractions

Hilton Head PGA Tour Event's Future Dependent On Ability To Find New Title Sponsor

PGA Tour considering shorter-term sponsor to replace Verizon
The Heritage Tournament Dir Steve Wilmot yesterday said that the PGA Tour event "needs a new sponsor 'sooner than later' if it's to stay on the tour's schedule," according to Josh McCann of the Hilton Head ISLAND PACKET. PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int'l Affairs Ty Votaw said that finding a sponsor is "critical." Votaw: "It's imperative for the long-term future of the event to secure a title sponsor." Votaw "repeated the same statement" when he was asked if that "meant there shouldn't be a tournament in 2012 without a sponsor." Wilmot said that tournament officials "plan to visit the tour's Florida headquarters in mid-March to discuss next steps." Both Wilmot and Votaw said that they "remain cautiously optimistic this year's 43rd annual tournament won't be the last." Votaw added that organizers "discussed the Heritage with prospective sponsors as recently as last week." He said that the Tour "prefers a company give a multi-year commitment to the Heritage, but is considering a shorter deal." Votaw added that the Tour "will do all it can to return to Hilton Head, which he said is a favorite destination of players and can provide ample hospitality for prospective sponsors." Wilmot noted that with "time ticking by, organizers are no longer asking for the $7.6 million they once sought from companies interested in sponsoring this year's tournament." But he added that if a company "buys the sponsorship at a discount," the tournament's charitable contributions "could be hurt this year." Votaw noted that though the Tour has yet to find a new title sponsor for the Heritage, it has "attracted 27 major sponsorships -- including renewals and extensions of title, presenting and supporting sponsorships -- for 23 tournaments since early 2009" (Hilton Head ISLAND PACKET, 3/1). Wilmot said that he has "gotten continued support from South Carolina leadership, including new Gov. Nikki Haley." The AP's Pete Iacobelli noted Haley at a tourism conference "pledged to do what she could to assist the tournament in finding a backer" (AP, 2/28).

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