Valspar swoops in to save Tampa's Tour stop
The PGA Tour in Tampa has survived the firing lines again.
The Tour announced today that the Valspar Corporation, a leader in the paint and coatings industry, has signed a four-year deal to be the title sponsor of the Valspar Championship. The event will retain its date in the Florida Swing and will be contested March 13-16.
The future of that coveted March slot in the Tour schedule has been the subject of endless speculation since Tampa's Tour event lost its title sponsor last year, and was considered the lone holdup to announcing the 2013-14 Tour schedule.
In the past decade, Tampa has had a revolving door of sponsors, with Chrysler giving way to Pods, which was replaced by Transitions. None of them elected to renew its contract. Despite being the only Tour stop that did not have a sponsor -- either presenting or title -- Tampa was granted gap financing from the Tour this year. Then, less than two weeks before the event, EverBank, a diversified financial-services company that is based in Jacksonville, Fla., stepped in as a presenting sponsor.
Tampa’s gain is Puerto Rico’s loss. The Puerto Rico Open has been contested in March opposite the World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship at Doral during the Florida Swing since its inception in 2008. Sidney Wolf, the tournament chairman for the Puerto Rico Open, has lobbied for a standalone date from the beginning. It was no secret that he was standing by in case the Tampa Tour stop were to be discontinued, and he had the necessary financing in place for a solo date. (The Tampa purse this year was $5.5 million vs. $3.5 million for the Puerto Rico Open.) Wolf said the tournament “was prepared to do something big.”
Instead, Wolf was left wondering if Puerto Rico will ever get its shot.
“I’d love to stay with the Tour, but they have nothing for us,” Wolf said. “They never gave us an option.”
As of now, the Puerto Rico Open remains under contract to run opposite Doral in March. But going forward, Wolf said he will explore other options for his event. One option might be trying to stage a European Tour event in Puerto Rico.
Until last week, the Tampa tournament appeared to be on life support. It was given multiple deadline extensions to land a sponsor, the latest being Sept. 1. After a number of false starts with other companies, Valspar expressed serious interest after an Aug. 30 meeting in Tampa.
In addition to the sponsorship, Valspar will receive the exclusive designation as “official paint supplier of the PGA Tour and Champions Tour.” The Tour also announced that BB&T Corporation, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based financial services holding company, has signed a four-year agreement to become the tournament’s local presenting sponsor.
Throughout the negotiations, Sheila Johnson, the owner of Innisbrook Resort where the tournament is held on the resort’s Copperhead Course, pledged to do whatever she could to save the Tampa event.
"I'm like a dog on a bone. I am not going to let the Tampa community down," Johnson told The Tampa Bay Times in March. "I am going to make sure this tournament stays around… This is my baby."