Champions Tour renews seven title sponsors, may expand schedule
The Champions Tour has renewed seven out of eight title sponsors this year and could expand its schedule for the second straight season.
The latest renewal for the 50-and-over tour came from Nature Valley, title sponsor of this week’s First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Nature Valley also has extended its official marketing partnership with the PGA Tour through the 2016 season.
That deal caps off a run of renewals that has the Champions Tour positioned to grow in coming years.
“It’s unique to have this many renewals,” said Mike Stevens, president of the Champions Tour. “You typically see sponsors move around a bit, but we’re fortunate that we’ve retained sponsors and several have been with us quite some time.”
Title sponsorships on the Champions Tour aren’t structured all that differently than those on the PGA Tour, except they cost less and don’t generate the same amount of exposure. Champions Tour title sponsorships cost from $2 million to $3 million a year, and more for those deals that also include an official marketing partnership with the PGA Tour.
Each deal comes with three days of coverage on Golf Channel, with branding, hospitality, advertising and pro-am spots. Sponsors can spin off half of their ad units into other Champions Tour events on Golf Channel during the rest of the year.
The tour also has upgraded some of its amenities, such as adding LED scoreboards at each event.
That has helped the tour maintain a strong roster of longtime sponsors.
■ Ace Group, a Champions Tour sponsor since 1999, just extended its Naples, Fla., event sponsorship through 2017.
■ Allianz, a title sponsor since 2001, recently extended its deal at Boca Raton, Fla., through 2017.
■ Constellation Energy (2003), Boeing (2005) and Mitsubishi (2009) also have renewed their deals — Constellation through 2017, while Boeing and Mitsubishi run through 2016. C Spire Wireless also has a new deal that will go through 2016.
The tour’s only swing-and-miss came with Liberty Mutual, which elected not to renew after a lengthy run with the Legends of Golf. Toshiba, a 19-year sponsor of the Newport Beach, Calif., tournament, and the tour’s longest-running title sponsor, is in talks to extend as well.
With that kind of stability, Stevens said he’s looking into one or two new markets for 2014 and 2015. Next year’s schedule is due out around early November. The tour featured 26 events on its 2013 schedule, up two tournaments from 2012.