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. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium

    Bucs

    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  2. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem

    Bucs

    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  3. Matt Peca making case for Lightning spot

    Blogs

    Center Matt Peca said he didn't read too much into the fact he was the only Lightning player to appear in each of the first three exhibition games.

    But Peca, 24, loved it.

    Matt Peca won nine of 10 faceoffs Friday, a skill the Lightning badly needs.
  4. Bucs players respond to Trump comments on anthem protests

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump shared his thoughts Friday night on NFL players protesting during the national anthem, suggesting that NFL owners should "fire" players who kneel during the anthem in protest. His remarks are alreading drawing responses from many NFL players, including some Bucs.

    Bucs players Mike Evans and Jameis Winston stand with coach Dirk Koetter during the national anthem in a game played in San Diego last season.
  5. Rays morning after: Wilson Ramos showing glimpses of what's possible in 2018

    Blogs

    The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.

    Catcher Wilson Ramos connects for a two-run single in the fifth inning against the Cubs on Sept. 20, 2017.