THE PERFECT MARRIAGE.
It was like we’d come full circle in April of 2006, when, then Travelers-St. Paul Insurance Company stepped up in an 11th hour rescue mission to save the local stop on the PGA Tour.
With sponsorless Hartford about to be relegated to the new PGA Fall Tour, or opt to join the Champions Tour, a weekend window opened when 86 Lumber vacated it’s sponsorship and a main tour event became available. With Travelers CEO Jay Fishman and CFO Andy Bessette crunching the numbers and working the phones with PGA Tour liasons Ted May and Roger Gelfenbein, a sponsorship package was put in place to return the local insurance presence to the one time Insurance City Open.
More importantly it saved for the market it’s largest single annual sporting event. The importance of the event to the state goes well beyond a national profile. The Travelers Championship annually raises money for charities state wide, last year’s tournament contributing a record $1,263,000 to 180 charitable organizations, organizations that would have been hard pressed to find ways of replacing that money.
Travelers Championship funds have helped pave the road to college for many of the areas young people and with Travelers and the PGA Tour in partnership Connecticut has one of the premier First Tee programs in the nation, guiding young people to a better life through the marriage of golf and education The Travelers Championship has helped build a headquarters building and training course for First Tee Connecticut on the TPC River Highlands property, adjacent to a state of the art, 23 acre practice facility that is widely considered one of the best on the PGA Tour.
The partnerships that were established that April day, when Travelers stepped in and saved our tournament, have been win-win for all involved, the Travelers, which has become one of the highest profile Tour sponsors year round, the PGA Tour, for whom the annual stop in Cromwell has become a shining example of it’s committment to the communities that are home to it’s events, the state of Connecticut, which annually has a national television platform to put it’s best foot forward, the surrounding business community that sees an annual bump in profits and the charitable organizations in the state who are annually able to increase the scope of their activities.
This year’s Travelers Championship is scheduled for June 19th-22nd at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. It was the last year on the existing contract with Travelers, but after last year’s event Fishman promised an extension of the title sponsorship contract would be coming. Today Travelers and the PGA Tour will jointly announced that a multi year extension is in place and the greatest sports and business partnership in state history will proceed unimpeded through it’s seventh decade. It’s the perfect marriage of a sponsor, an event and a market that were made for each other. This is a bit premature, but here’s to the next extension. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.