BOSTON – Seth Waugh, chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank Americas, defended his bank’s sponsorship of a PGA Tour, saying the event has been a good investment for the company in a slumping economy while providing needed money for the charities and local businesses that depend upon it.
“You can think of the golf tournament as a silly little thing in terms of what’s going on in the world,” Waugh said Wednesday, citing studies that put the economic impact of the Deutsche Bank Championship at $40 million to $70 million annually, “but these are the bricks that can build the economy back up. Nobody in the world’s going to want to take 70 million less.”
Speaking to leaders of Boston businesses and charities, Waugh bristled at complaints that Northern Trust, a recipient of more than $1.5 billion in federal bailout money, was wining and dining clients and employees at a February tournament that it sponsors in Los Angeles.
Among the critics was U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts and the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Frank’s district includes the TPC Boston course in Norton, where the Deutsche Bank Championship is held. Frank and other members of his committee wrote to Northern Trust CEO Frederick H. Waddell to demand that the bank reimburse the federal government for taxpayer money spent on “lavish events” in conjunction with the Northern Trust Open.
“Six months ago, it was at a fever pitch. That was too bad. It’s calmed down,” Waugh said, stressing that Deutsche Bank did not take federal bailout money. “Northern Trust was in the cross hairs. (It was) being treated unfairly. It really boiled down to the fact that Sheryl Crow was singing.”
The Labor Day weekend stop on the PGA Tour, the Deutsche Bank Championship has become one of the most prestigious tournaments on the calendar – thanks largely to its association with Tiger Woods. Woods, who won the event in 2006 and finished second twice, is involved in running the tournament, and his foundation is its primary charitable beneficiary.
The tournament gave $3.5 million to charities last year and $14 million since it began in 2003.
“When you delve into what golf does for the charities and the community impact for the local economies, I don’t think it would be too beneficial to see that go,” said Mark Steinberg, who runs the golf division at IMG and is Woods’ agent. “The numbers speak for the benefit.”