Sports Outside the Beltway

US Bank drops sponsorship of Milwaukee PGA Tour stop

This news comes as no surprise to this golf fan.

Without a new title sponsor, the future of Milwaukee’s PGA Tour stop will be in serious jeopardy. Getting that kind of commitment out of a company is not easy in this economy — especially for a tournament that is played opposite the British Open.

U.S. Bank will not renew its sponsorship after this year’s tournament in July, and tournament director Dan Croak is searching for a replacement.

“We need a big sponsor — or, as we’ve had in the past, a couple of big sponsors — to take the biggest piece of the puzzle,” Croak said Monday. “And then we’re able to sell smaller pieces within the community. We are moving forward as if we need a title sponsor to continue.”

Sponsorship is a major chunk of a tournament’s budget; Croak wouldn’t give a specific figure, but allowed that it accounts for “probably 50 percent” of revenues.

“The way that the PGA Tour structures itself, you can’t do it without [a sponsor],” he said.

That’s untrue. The now defunct BC Open was still a PGA Tour stop till 2006 and never had a sponsor in its 35 year history. Its only been in the last two decades that almost all tournaments came to have a sponsor. Better yet, before US Bank became sponsor, The modern Milwaukee Open never had a sponsor from the 1968(It’s first tournament) up till 2003. It was called the Greater Milwaukee Open for all of those years.

The PGA Tour and its golfers have to be realistic. You can’t expect a sponsor to shell out millions for an event where no top golfer with the exception of Kenny Perry can be expected to play. What do you do? Play for less money or not play at all? I predict the PGA Tour and its players will have to make that decision about this tournament and a few others.

Croak says the tournament’s commitment to raising money for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin makes it more attractive to companies.

“It’s much easier to say the primary beneficiary of this tournament is Children’s Hospital,” Croak said. “And then they say, ‘Oh, yeah. It is about charity.’”

The charities will have to decide too if less is better than none.

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