Innisbrook: Search continues for long-term Tampa Bay Championship sponsor

1:49 PM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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Palm Harbor, Florida -- Thousands of fans flocked to Innisbrook resort this spring to see some of the greatest golfers in the world compete. Kevin Streelman won the 2013 Tampa Bay Championship, his first win on the PGA Tour.

The event was a success and tournament coordinators want to see it back here for many years to come.

"Tampa Bay has supported the Tampa Bay Championship unbelievably," said Kevin Krisle, tournament director for the Tampa Bay Championship. "The last three we've hit attendance records. The galleries are growing each and every year. It's just been fantastic to watch."

That's the puzzling part for tournament directors and the PGA Tour alike. As fruitful as the Tampa Bay Championship has been over the years, finding long-term sponsorship has been tougher than playing from the rough at the Copperhead course that hosts the tournament.

Since 2000, the tournament has been known as the Tampa Bay Classic (presented by Buick), the Chrysler Championship, PODS Championship, Transitions Championship and its current name. The 2013 tournament was presented by EverBank, who swooped in at the eleventh hour to put its name on one of the PGA Tour's most popular events.

The search is on for a permanent partner in Tampa Bay.

"You look at many of the most successful tournaments on the PGA Tour and the common denominator is a long-term, title sponsor," said Andy Pazder, the PGA Tour Executive Vice President and COO. "We think at some point we will find that here because this tournament has so many of the right ingredients."

The tournaments on the PGA Tour are broadcast to over 220 countries around the world. Television has allowed the game to be viewed in over 830 million homes globally. Fans continue to show up to events in their communities. The economic impact is enormous for host regions.

Those are the major selling points to sponsors. They bait is set. Now the tour needs a business to bite on the Tampa Bay Championship opportunity. Pazder says the PGA Tour is hopeful that a sponsor will be in place before the 2014 schedule is announced in "60 to 90 days". If they don't find one, the PGA Tour may have to cut out an event that has become a great stop for years.

"(The Tampa Bay Championship) has all of the elements of being one of our very best, we just need that long-term title sponsor which we know we're going to find," he said.

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