Advertisement
  1. Business

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg loses Honda as main sponsor

Officials from Honda, a race sponsor for nine years, did not explain the dropout.
Officials from Honda, a race sponsor for nine years, did not explain the dropout.
Published Oct. 19, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG — Honda has unexpectedly pulled out as sponsor of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, a stunning move that has race organizers scrambling for a new one just five months before the race.

Honda, which had sponsored the race for nine years, pulled out last week, race president Tim Ramsberger announced Friday.

"To say we're surprised is an understatement," Ramsberger said. "It's a tough thing to experience but I don't think it'll damper the race. It won't affect us going forward."

The three-day event, celebrating its 10th anniversary in March, attracts drivers and fans from across the globe. And the national broadcast, which city officials call a three-hour commercial for St. Petersburg, reaches millions of viewers, race organizers said.

So why did Honda back out?

Ramsberger said he didn't know. The company didn't return a call from the Tampa Bay Times.

The Grand Prix is now courting potential sponsors, Ramsberger said, declining to identify what he called "several interested parties." The value of the exposure for all sponsors is $8 million to $10 million from the ABC broadcast alone, he said.

Beyond monetary issues, changing sponsors presents a logistical challenge for Grand Prix organizers. Shirts, for example, must be ordered in mid February.

"I'm not worried about deadlines," Ramsberger said. "I'm confident new partners will step up."

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster said he's optimistic about the fate of the race, which annually fills local hotels and restaurants.

"Sponsors come and go," Foster said. "No one's married to Honda. We're married to the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg."

Another major bay area sporting event, the PGA tournament at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, went a year without a title sponsor before Valspar Corp., a global paint and coatings manufacturer based in Minneapolis, announced last month that it will be the title sponsor.

It is scheduled for March 13-16 at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor.

This story has been corrected to describe the total value of exposure to all sponsors at $8 million to $10 million for the televised race.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A beer is pictured in the outdoor games area of Park & Rec on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 in St. Petersburg. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Towers of Channelside condo association has filed a lawsuit against the bar, as residents complain about noise.
  2. Yacht StarShip, a dining and water taxi company, has added the Lost Pearl pirate ship to its fleet just in time for Gasparilla. [Yacht StarShip]
    After years entertaining tourists in Virginia Beach, the Lost Pearl is settling into its new Tampa Bay home.
  3. Bank OZK CEO and chairman George Gleason, left, and managing director Greg Newman are photographed at the OZK Wynwood branch in Miami on November 13, 2019. [CARL JUSTE | Miami Herald] [Carlt Juste | Miami Herald]
    In fact, Bank OZK has emerged as a powerhouse in commercial lending generally.
  4. Flooding from an October king tide in Miami Shores fills streets, sidewalks and driveways at its peak. [Miami Herald]
    And it could lose up to 35 percent of its value by 2050, according to a new report.
  5. Delta Air Lines said Friday it will launch five new round-trip routes a day between Tampa and Miami starting May 4. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    Delta says the daily nonstop Miami service will create new connections for Tampa travelers to fly to Latin America and other international destinations.
  6. The Undercroft — the new home to a branch office of TheIncLab, an artificial intelligence firm — provides work space for several cybersecurity companies in one of Ybor City’s most historic structures, the El Pasaje building on E Ninth Avenue. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times [Richard Danielson]
    The Washington, D.C.-area company expects hiring 15 developers and engineers in the next twelve months and partnering with bay area universities to augment its staff with student interns.
  7. FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2019, file photo Amazon packages move along a conveyor prior to Amazon robots transporting packages from workers to chutes that are organized by zip code, at an Amazon warehouse facility in Goodyear, Ariz. Cashless shopping is convenient, but it can be a budget-buster. This year, make it more difficult to spend money online. This could help cut out some of your impulse purchases. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File) [ROSS D. FRANKLIN  |  AP]
    Here are some tips to avoid wasting money when you shop.
  8. Lori Baggett, managing partner of Carlton Fields in Tampa. [Carlton Fields]
    The Carlton Fields firm announced her promotion earlier this month.
  9. A new Publix in the Channell district located on the corner of E Twiggs Street and N Meridian Avenue in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times] ["OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Meanwhile in Tampa, the Westshore store could open soon.
  10. The Sears at University Mall near the University of South Florida in Tampa is in the process of being torn down to make way for a new mixed-use development project. [RD Management]
    This is what developers plan for the old Sears stores at University Mall and Citrus Park.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement