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)

Champions Tour will not hold event in Tampa Bay in 2013

After 25 years, the Champions Tour is bypassing Tampa Bay.

The tour released its 2013 schedule Wednesday, and the mid-April stop at TPC Tampa Bay in Lutz has been replaced by the Greater Gwinnett Championship in Duluth, Ga.

"We just couldn't find a (title) sponsor in Tampa,'' tour president Mike Stevens said. "We had some nibbles. But at the end of the day, we were not able to get anyone across the line.

"If it wasn't for this downturn in the economy, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.''

The beginning of the end came when Outback Steakhouse, the title sponsor since 2004, pulled out after the 2011 senior event. Tournament officials scrambled to find another sponsor before Encompass Insurance came on board for 2012. However, Encompass was only a one-year fix because it hosts a new event in Glenview, Ill., starting in June.

On Sept. 1, with no title sponsor in sight, all full- and part-time employees were let go.

Tournament director Amy Hawk stayed on until the end of the year in a last-ditch effort to find a sponsor.

While exact figures aren't made public, Champions Tour title sponsorship costs about half that of a PGA event. Transitions Optical paid about $7 million per year to sponsor the PGA tournament at Innisbrook.

While there will be no 2013 event, Stevens said the tour has not given up on the bay area.

"We still have Tampa as a viable host city,'' he said. "When we have companies that express interest in sponsorship on the Champions Tour, Tampa is always a part of the market list. … I hope we can get back there in 2014 and if not, perhaps '15. We've got 25 years invested there. It's tough to walk away from.''

"It's really disappointing that it didn't work out," Hawk said. "I got at least 15 emails today about buying tickets, and I didn't know what to tell them. Hopefully we can get it back in '14."

The senior tournament started in 1988 at Tampa Palms and was known as the GTE Classic. Verizon took over sponsorship from 2001-03. Outback bought the title sponsorship rights and made it a pro-am. It drew celebrities, including actors Mark Wahlberg, Bill Murray, George Lopez and Michael J. Fox.

Past champions include Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer. The 2012 champion was Michael Allen.

The tournament has raised more than $9 million for local charities since its inception, according to its website. TPC Tampa Bay hosted the tournament for 20 years, the second-longest streak on tour.

With the Champions Tour gone, the only professional golf event in the area is the PGA's Tampa Bay Championship in Palm Harbor. That tournament needs a title sponsor as well but will be played in March.

Stevens said the tour was flexible in its pitch to possible sponsors. They suggested format changes and dates in February, March or April. "It's a big loss for us,'' he said. "If I could wish for anything, it would be to have a sponsor come in and assume that role. I'm going to stay bullish on the market.''

Champions Tour will not hold event in Tampa Bay in 2013 12/19/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 8:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Defense struggling to get off the field on third and long

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Third and long, normally an ideal situation for an NFL defense, continues to be a problem as the Bucs try to get opposing offenses off the field.

    Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says his defense is giving quarterbacks too much time to find holes when facing third and long.
  2. Miami up to No. 2, behind Alabama, in College Football Playoff rankings

    Colleges

    Miami moved up to No. 2 behind Alabama in the College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night, with Clemson slipping one spot to three and Oklahoma holding at four.

    The unbeaten Hurricanes trail only Alabama in the new rankings, with Clemson and Oklahoma completing the top four.
  3. Strong's slip about UCF's Griffin seen as motivation for Knights

    College

    TAMPA — While saying nothing to purposely fan the flames of the USF-UCF rivalry during his weekly news conference Tuesday, Bulls coach Charlie Strong provided fuel for the Knights' best player.

    FILE - In this Nov. 11, 2017, file photo, Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin defends against Connecticut during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Orlando, Fla. The American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year in 2016, Griffin has not made quite as many impact plays this season, but he is still among the best players in the conference. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File) NY155
  4. Cambridge Christian's Caleb Young makes up for lost season

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA — For Cambridge Christian, last Friday's Class 2A region final against Indian Rocks Christian represented a hurdle that the Lancers couldn't quite clear a year ago. For one Lancer in particular, it was the Golden Eagles themselves that brought back nothing but bad memories.

    Caleb Young tore his ACL on Sept. 9, 2016, vs. Indian Rocks Christian and missed the rest of his junior season. He helped Cambridge Christian beat IRC last week and he’s injury free.
  5. Bucs linemen hand out Thanksgiving dinner to 1,000 families in drive-through event

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — The smiles started with hundreds of moms, dads and kids as they arrived at One Bucs Place, but it wasn't long before the giant men in red were beaming, too.

    Bucs offensive guard Caleb Benenoch delivers a Thanksgiving dinner Monday to Melissa Mobley during the 11th annual Turkey Time with the O-Line. Mobley’s family was one of hundreds served.