We never expected this, but we have come to learn that, in terms of commitment to the community, we can expect just about anything at anytime from Travelers. Still, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem generated a round of applause and more than a few “Oohs” and “Aahs” when he stepped to the podium at the Connecticut Convention Center yesterday morning and said, “We are delighted to announce that the new agreement of sponsorship for the Travelers Championship will now extend for the next 10 years.”
We never doubted that Travelers CEO Jay Fishman, who Finchem called one of the best business partners on Tour, would make good on his promise to extend the agreement as the title sponsor of the annual June stop at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, but, 10 years? We expected four, maybe five, but 10 years puts us in elite company. Only AT&T, at Pebble Beach matches that commitment. And Finchem wasn’t shy about calling it an important commitment for the PGA Tour and saying that Travelers has been one of the Tour’s most reliable corporate partners.
Fishman joked about the press conference, which had been called only to “Address the future of the PGA Tour in Hartford”, saying, “We wouldn’t call a press conference to announce we’re no longer going to sponsor the tournament.”
He drew titters of laughter from the audience, because we all knew that. But 10 years?
“When we first started discussions we were talking about four years, then it went up to six and that surprised me”, said tournament chairman Nathan Grube, “But when we got up to ten years, I was stunned.”
The new agreement runs through 2024 and to celebrate that year Grube announced a ticket special that will run for the next two weeks, two tickets to this June’s Travelers Championship for $24.
Stunned was also a good way to describe the reaction from the 200 or so people on hand for the announcement, a crowd that included many longtime tournament officials, some of whom date back to the original Insurance City Open. Among them was Ted May, who’s father started this event in 1952, with Travelers as one of the corporate partners that gave the tournament it’s original name. Edwin May was smiling down yesterday, as broadly as his son, one of the tournament’s Tour liaisons, who has overseen the development of the beautiful “First Tee Connecticut” facility adjacent to the Tour owned TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, a shining example of the Travelers commitment to the community, which Fishman proudly pointed to as a primary reason for continuing his company’s involvement.
Also on display was a tear inducing video of the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for children with life threatening diseases, emotionally introduced by it’s late founder, Paul Newman. The camp has become the standard bearer of nearly 200 charitable foundations that annually rely on the Travelers Championship to expand their reach.
Today the future of it all is secure for all of us, a community that annually comes together under a red umbrella. That’s Travelers. 10 years. That’s commitment, above and beyond. As a member of this community let me say, this is a partnership I am very proud to be one small part of.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.