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Volume 24 No. 114

Events and Attractions

The struggle to "find the right formula for the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course greens might result in The Players Championship moving back to March in the future," according to Garry Smits of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem on Tuesday said such a scenario is “unlikely,” but also said that unless the agronomy staffs at the Tour and the TPC Sawgrass can "figure out the right formula for maintaining the greens during the winter, the May date that the tournament has occupied since 2007 will come under further discussion." Before there are any "serious discussions about changing the date, the Tour will wait a few years to see the results of Stadium Course greens after they are re-sodded" in the summer of '15 (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 5/7). Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes, "Let's not pretend staging The Players Championship without Tiger Woods -- never mind that it's during the NFL Draft -- isn't somewhat of a buzz kill." Three times in the last six years, the tournament has been "Tiger-less, either by first-round withdrawal or injury." And in each instance, the Sunday leaderboard in '08, ’10 and ’11 was "not exactly packed with star quality." Frenette: "For the love of Q scores, would it be too much to ask a certified star -- Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson or promising 20-year-old newcomer Jordan Spieth -- to give the Players a Sunday jolt by raising the crystal trophy?" It is "nothing against all those no-names who have occupied Sunday leaderboards without Tiger in recent years," but this is the PGA Tour's "headliner event, and fans at the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course prefer some sizzle at the finish line" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 5/8).

DINING OPTIONS: The TIMES-UNION's Smits reported there are "new food venues" at this year's tournament. There also is a "new fan hospitality venue that will feature more local food, the Michelob Ultra Blue Room VIP Lounge." Friday tickets for the Blue Room are "already sold out." Other existing fan areas also have been "enhanced or enlarged." Before and after eating, fans "eager to watch" players will have "better views on a course already built with their vantage points in mind." The dining areas also are "strategically located so that fans have only a short distance to get to the nearest hole" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 5/5).

Colts Owner Jim Irsay, who entered rehabilitation treatment after a DUI arrest in March, has been "taking an active role in Indianapolis' 2018 Super Bowl bid and will be in Atlanta to make a presentation to NFL owners later this month," according to Stephen Holder of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. An Indianapolis Super Bowl Bid Committee news conference yesterday detailed the bid it "submitted to the NFL and team owners this week." Colts COO Pete Ward said that Irsay "has been and will continue to be an important part of the process." It is the "biggest indication yet Irsay is out of treatment and, perhaps, resuming some of his responsibilities in running the team." Ward would "not speak to Irsay's whereabouts or whether he has completed and departed the inpatient treatment program he was attending." Meanwhile, Indiana Sports Corp President Allison Melangton said that the bid is "stronger because of lessons applied from the past." Melangton said, "We absolutely believe a strength is that we've pre-funded our committee with corporations from Indiana. ... There's no risk opportunity with us financially. That is not a requirement. That's a strategic choice" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/8).

BAYOU BASH: New Orleans Sports Foundation VP Sam Joffray, who is spearheading the city's bid for the '18 game, said that the "emphasis on fan experience could mean bringing Super Bowl Boulevard and the NFL Experience in closer proximity along the riverfront." In Baton Rouge, Ted Lewis notes parts of the NFL Experience "could be moved outside, a subtle reminder to the owners that other finalists are both cold-weather cities." The cities' presentations last 15 minutes, "plus time for questions from the owners," which could include one about the "34-minute power failure during Super Bowl XLVII." But Joffray pointed out that Wrestlemania XXX, which was held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last month, was a "three-hour power-gobbling extravaganza compared to the halftime show that produced the blackout, and it went off without incident." Each NFL owner can find the bids on a tablet given to them, and a video in New Orleans' is "introduced by Archie Manning and narrated by Harry Connick Jr." It "extols the familiar trademarks of the city -- the fun, the food, the music -- with an emphasis that 2018 is New Orleans' 300th birthday." The tablet also has apps "leading to more of the nuts and bolts of the bids" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 5/8). 

THE BIDS ARE IN: In Minneapolis, Rochelle Olson notes the city's bid for the Super Bowl yesterday was "shipped to the owners on Best Buy-donated iPads." U.S. Bancorp Chair & CEO Richard Davis, who is on Minneapolis' committee, said that he would "not discuss themes of the bid or 'secret weapons' in the campaign to beat out Indianapolis and New Orleans for the game." Within seven days of "soliciting corporate help," the Minneapolis committee had raised 75% of the estimated $30-40M needed. The pledges are now at 85% of "what’s needed." The committee chairs said that the corporate donations will "defray any public costs for the game -- including security." They also are "certain they have in place support for the tax abatements required by the NFL for the game" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/8). Davis and Ecolab CEO Doug Baker, who also is on the committee, said that it "won't be a disadvantage to Minnesota's application that the two other cities offer tax exemptions for Super Bowl tickets as well as related events, whereas Minnesota exempts only ticket sales." In St. Paul, Doug Belden notes lawmakers have "made it clear they won't exempt player salaries from income tax." Baker said, "We of course will take it if it's another year, but we are really focused, we want it in 2018" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/8).

The WGC-Match Play Championship "will not be in its traditional spot" on the PGA Tour's schedule ‘15 for the first time since it began in ’99, according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. The future of the event “remains muddled after Accenture decided this year not to renew its title sponsorship” of the event. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said, “This has been taking longer than we thought. We'll see. We probably won't have anything to say for at least a few weeks." Ferguson noted with certain changes coming into play, there is “no room" on the '15 schedule for the Match Play event "between the start of the year and The Players Championship.” In terms of future location, Finchem “did not rule out a return to Tucson.” Finchem: “Where we’re going is an open question.” Ferguson wrote the PGA Tour is “in talks with at least one potential sponsor, and it's a remote possibility that the tournament simply takes a year off.” One problem with that is the PGA Tour “would have a hole in its schedule” a week after The Players Championship. The greater concern “appears to be a title sponsor, which could play a large role in where the Match Play is held” (AP, 5/7).