Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lack of sponsor might be end of Tampa Bay Champions Tour golf tournament

After 25 years, Tampa Bay's Champions Tour event appears to be on life support.

The tournament, which started as the GTE Classic in 1988 and was best known as the Outback Steakhouse Pro Am, has not secured a title sponsor for the 2013 season. Because of that, all full- and part-time staff were let go on Sept. 1.

"We had to shut the doors for now,'' said tournament director Amy Hawk, who will stay on in case a sponsor is found. "It didn't make any sense keeping a staff when there was no revenue coming in. We have some significant irons in the fire, but we've heard that before. We're just going to keep our fingers crossed and hope that something gets done.''

The next season's schedule is usually finalized by mid November. If a title sponsor is not found by then, the mid April date will be vacant. Last year, even before finding a sponsor at the last minute, the tournament would have been partly funded by the Champions Tour.

That's not an option in 2013.

"Right now, if you asked the Champions Tour, we're not on the schedule for 2013,'' Hawk said.

While Hawk wouldn't give an exact figure, a title sponsorship for a Champions event is about half the cost of a PGA Tour event. Transitions Optical reportedly paid about $7 million per year to sponsor the PGA tournament at Innisbrook.

This is not the first time the tournament has sought new sponsorship. GTE sponsored it until 2000. Verizon took over from 2001-03. Outback Steakhouse was the title sponsor since 2004 before becoming a secondary sponsor last year. Encompass Insurance stepped up in February of 2012 to be a title sponsor for one tournament.

Per an agreement with the Champions Tour, Encompass left to become a title sponsor for a new 2013 tournament in Chicago.

The senior tour has held a tournament at TPC Tampa Bay in Lutz for 20 consecutive years, second longest on tour. It became a Pro-Am event when Outback took over.

Aside from some of the biggest names on the 50-and-over tour, the tournament also drew celebrities such as Kevin Costner, Bill Murray, Mark Wahlberg, Michael J. Fox and George Lopez. It has donated more than $9 million to local charities since 1988.

Michael Allen won this year's event.

"This was a very difficult task,'' Tampa Bay Pro-Am Foundation co-chairman Bob Basham said in a statement. "This staff's dedication and creativity built this long-standing event and helped make it one of the premier stops on the Champions Tour."

Lack of sponsor might be end of Tampa Bay Champions Tour golf tournament 09/12/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 9:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. History shows Ole Miss upheaval tough to overcome

    College

    After Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze resigned Thursday, with the opener six weeks away, offensive line coach Matt Luke is being thrown into an interim head coaching position. He will try to save a season that already had been scarred by a self-imposed bowl ban for NCAA violations.

    After coach Jim Tressel resigned, Ohio State went 6-7, including a loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl, in 2011.
  2. Bucs add top executive from MLS to business side

    Blogs

    The Bucs have hired a top executive from Major League Soccer to their business operations in Atul "AK" Khosla, who has spent the last six years as chief operating officer of Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire.

    Atul Khosla, 38, spent the last six years as chief operating officer of MLS' Chicago Fire. He joins the Bucs as their new chief corporate development and brand officer.
  3. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  4. For starters: Souza not in lineup vs. Rangers

    Blogs

     

  5. Remember that famous Fred McGriff TV commercial? He's back, in a parody

    Blogs

    If you've ever seen Fred McGriff's TV commerical for Tom Emanski's Defensive Drills video it will always be fresh in your mind, with the deadpan delivery and famously ill-fitting cap.

    Fred McGriff in his new commercial for Chassis, a men's grooming line, that looks a lot like his old one.