For the fifth time since 2000, those in charge of putting on a PGA event at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor will be looking for a title sponsor.
Transitions Optical informed the PGA it will not renew when its four-year contract expires after the 2012 tournament in March. Tour spokesman Ty Votaw declined to speculate on the bay area tournament's future, but on Wednesday he sounded optimistic the event would find a replacement.
"We are in discussions with several prospects as a replacement sponsor,'' Votaw said. "We have a number of companies we talk to about opportunities all the time. We are in those discussions now. We are fully sponsored for 2012 and we anticipate that to be the case in 2013 and beyond.''
Innisbrook has had a revolving door of sponsors since it became a PGA event in 2000. The PGA Tour sponsored the 2000 and 2002 tournaments (2001 was cancelled due to the terrorist attacks). Chrysler was the title sponsor from 2003-07. Then PODS stepped in for 2008 but exercised an option to back out after one year. Transitions signed a four-year agreement at the last moment and took over in 2009.
Calls to Transitions headquarters in Pinellas Park were not returned.
Now the search begins for yet another sponsor. Transitions Championship tournament director Kevin Krisle said they will look locally and nationally to secure one. Title sponsorship for the tournament has been reported to be around $7 million per year.
"We'll work in synch with the PGA Tour to try to find a title sponsor,'' Krisle said. "The search process has begun. In coordination with the PGA Tour, we are in discussions with prospects at this time.''
While there has been no time frame set to find a sponsor, the next season's schedules come out in the fall. If there is no title sponsor by fall 2012, the local tournament may be in trouble.
Votaw would not speculate on when a sponsor needed to be secured. "That's too premature and hypothetical to even talk about,'' he said.
Krisle said his focus is making sure the 2012 tournament goes off without a hitch. That, and finding a sponsor.
"We're not speculating on the future of any of it,'' Krisle said. "Our primary goal right now, in addition to the 2012 tournament, is finding a replacement sponsor to take the place of Transitions.''
Next year's tournament is March 15-18 at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course.