Sports Outside the Beltway

FBR out as PGA Tour sponsor

Could the PGA Tour be returning to the days of slimmer purses and tournaments without corporate sponsors? From ESPN-

Commissioner Tim Finchem announced Tuesday that FBR has decided not to renew its contract after 2010 for the popular tournament outside Phoenix.

“We’ve obviously had — and are having — some bumps in the road,” Finchem said.

Already this year, U.S. Bank has said it was pulling out of the Milwaukee tournament after this year, and Ginn Resorts ended its sponsorship contract three years early, prompting the tour to file a lawsuit. The tour also faces uncertainty in Memphis, Tenn., where Stanford Financial was signed up through 2016 as the sponsor.

However, Travelers Insurance two weeks ago extended its sponsorship in Connecticut by four years through 2014, and Finchem said Accenture has signed up for another four years as title sponsor of this week’s Match Play Championship.

FBR has been the title sponsor since 2004 at the TPC Scottsdale, which has grown into the rowdiest event on the PGA Tour.

Using cars to gauge its attendance, the tournament last year set a record with more than 538,000 fans for the weekend, including 170,802 on Saturday. Most of them head to the par-3 16th hole, which is entirely enclosed with bleachers, making it the closest thing to golf being played in a stadium.

The tournament is run by The Thunderbirds, a civic group which has become one of the top fundraisers for PGA Tour charities. The group said it has begun the search for a new sponsor, a tough task in this economy.

A tournament that was first played in 1932, is likely to face a tough choice. A half dozen PGA Tour stops are in the process of or have lost sponsors, and with the economy and public opinion the way it is, I think it will be hard to find replacements. The PGA Tour has fewer problems than the LPGA, and they will adjust. Maybe a celebrity would like to give his name(but not money) to the event. Half or a little more of the west coast events had celebrity affiliations in the 1970′s

Bob Hope- Palm Springs tournament
Andy Williams- San Diego
Bing Crosby- Pebble Beach
Glen Campbell- LA

Could a return to those days be in the cards for the PGA Tour?

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