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Volume 24 No. 114

Events and Attractions

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem Sunday gave Kapalua “a ringing endorsement” as the location for the Tournament of Champions, according to Paul Arnett of the Honolulu STAR ADVERTISER. There was speculation that the season-opening event “might be headed down another cart path in the near future,” as the tournament this year featured “the smallest field since this winners-only event moved” to Kapalua in ’99. But Finchem repeatedly said that he is "pleased about this week.” Several ideas “have been floated, including moving the start of the season back two weeks to give players a little more time off and flexibility with their scheduling.” Another idea is “having the winners from the European Tour also be eligible.” Finchem “doesn’t want to shift tournaments around and then cause a domino effect.” He said that the tournament’s title sponsor, Hyundai, “is happy here.” In the second year of its title sponsorship, Finchem said that the “powers that be are pleased with the arrangement.” The Plantation Course is “also still part of the plan.” Arnett noted one change the Tour made from last year was “having the tournament end on Monday to avoid the NFL playoffs and giving the Hyundai people who make the trip out here an extra day to schedule since the event begins so close to the holiday season.” Finchem said, “It doesn’t seem like much. But it is important” (Honolulu STAR ADVERTISER, 1/9). Finchem said, "From a tour standpoint and a sponsor standpoint, we think this is a great week this week -- I don't want to understate that. It is a great tournament" (MAUI NEWS, 1/10). The event included just 27 golfers (Lucas Glover was a late scratch) and GOLF WORLD MONDAY’s Dave Shedloski wrote this past weekend’s “no-shows hurt the quality of the field." The average World Ranking of "those in attendance was 82nd compared to the 11 missing with an average of 17th, and six of the missing 11 were ranked in the top 10.” It is “difficult to assess whether it is location, time of year, seemingly endless pots of gold or the global gold schedule essentially stretched over the entire calendar that is having an adverse effect on a tournament assumed to be of marquee quality.” But the Tour needs some “new thinking, new possibilities” for the event, and "that means more than window dressing like a Monday finish.” Shedloski: “Frankly, all concerned parties deserve better” (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 1/9 issue).

PAY FOR PLAY: Int'l Sports Management agent Chubby Chandler appeared on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" today and discussed the concept of players receiving an appearance fee to play events. The practice is not allowed on the PGA Tour but is used on the European Tour. Chandler said, "Whatever way you can make a field up, you have to look at that. I think tournaments in the States that are in bad days, they need to have a couple of guys that are ambassadors or do some promotion work. ... You can’t advertise somebody’s playing until they enter, so if you don’t get somebody committing then how do you tell the public who’s going to be there? So I think there is a place for tournaments to have a budget to help make that tournament successful” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 1/10).

Baltimore officials are "conducting a swift and informal search for a new team to manage the city's Grand Prix race -- and are declining to explain how or by what criteria they are making decisions," according to Scharper & Broadwater of the Baltimore SUN. City officials "declined on Monday to name the groups that are seeking to run the event -- or even to say how many have signaled interest." Baltimore Deputy Mayor Kaliope Parthemos, who is "spearheading discussions for the city, has said there are only a few groups that IndyCar would consider approving to run the race." She said yesterday that the final contract "would go through a public vetting process when it came before Baltimore's spending board." North American Motorsport Events CEO Geoff Whaling, whose racing group "submitted a seven-page plan to take over the race," said that his "interactions with the city left him wondering if Baltimore officials had already made up their minds." Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's administration is "pushing hard to continue the race, which pumped $47 million into the economy, according to a study commissioned by the city." City officials said that they are "able to bypass a formal request for proposals and bid process in seeking a new group to run the race because the contract is for a 'professional service'" (Baltimore SUN, 1/10). In Baltimore, Jack Lambert noted North American Motorsport Events has a plan "to create a nonprofit to run the race." Whaling said yesterday that his group "has proposed creating a not-for-profit group made up of North American Motorsport Events officials and Grand Prix sponsors." The nonprofit "would create a board of trustees made up of local businesses and community members." The proposal "would call for a new five-year agreement with the city that would come with annual reviews." Whaling said that the new group "would not assume the debts of Baltimore Racing." Rawlings-Blake Policy & Communications Dir Ryan O'Doherty said that final approval "for an agreement would have to go through the city's Board of Estimates." O'Doherty "did not have a timetable for when that might occur." Whaling also said that he "was not given a timetable for when he might hear back from the city" (, 1/9).

SETTING EXPECTATIONS: A BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL editorial states a new management team "would have to prove a second Grand Prix is worth it to the taxpayers." Hotel occupancy and "direct impact numbers fell far short of what was predicted last year," and downtown businesses "were mixed on whether it was good for their business." Some were "forced to close as the race preparations took over downtown's core." It would be "fascinating to watch how new organizers work to change the perception of the race enough to attract big sponsorship dollars." The first race never attracted a title sponsor, a "failure that led to its financial downfall" (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/6 issue).