SBD/April 20, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

PGA Tour, Texas Open Officials Optimistic Valero Will Extend Title Sponsorship

Valero Texas Open officials have "started looking ahead to pressing questions" surrounding the PGA Tour event, including negotiations with the title sponsor, according to Richard Oliver of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. Following the conclusion of this year's tournament last Sunday, Valero Texas Open officials embarked on a "crucial stretch for the event, a fixture on the tour since 1922." Valero Energy Corp.'s "relationship with the Texas Open, at 10 years and counting, is set to expire next year" when the Tour's current TV contract runs out. It has been a "healthy marriage, including record-setting charity fundraising totals." PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said, "Valero is already a company that understands the intrinsic value of giving back and how that affects corporate image. It (is) a very good match. All the elements are now in place for this to continue to blossom and that's what we're going to be looking to extend in the future." Both tournament and Valero officials say that "negotiations for that to happen will be under way soon." There are "indications that Valero is bullish on extending the relationship, depending on cost and the tournament's strength on the PGA Tour schedule." Valero Dir of Corporate Communications Bill Day said, "We're not in any rush. There's no specific timetable" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 4/20).

IMPORTED FROM DETROIT? In Detroit, Tim Twentyman notes "time is running out" for the PGA Tour The Heritage to "find a new title sponsor after Verizon dropped its sponsorship 18 months ago." If "no replacement is found, organizers are worried the event could be dropped from the PGA Tour schedule next season," and that could "open up a spot for the Detroit Golf Club." The Michigan course reportedly "has secured a title sponsor (Cadillac) and has hosted" PGA Tour officials, who have "gone through the course and offered a checklist of things club officials would have to do to get approval to host a tournament." The Heritage, which tees off tomorrow, "has been contested at Harbor Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C., every year since 1969." Heritage Tournament Dir Steve Wilmot said, "I would never have thought a year ago, six months ago and let alone two months ago we'd still be in this position without a title sponsor. We are working extremely close with the PGA Tour and we have not determined when our (deadline) is." Still, Detroit Golf Club President Peter Walocko "sent a letter to members last week, letting them know the club likely will not host an event" in '12 (DETROIT NEWS, 4/20).
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