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Town $10k chips away at $800k PGA goal

Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen officially granted $10,000 to the former Knoxville Open at its meeting Thursday, March 11.

The Energy Corridor Classic has been searching for sponsors since the golf tournament was taken over by the PGA earlier this year.

“We are hopeful at this point. We have continued negotiations with a number of businesses,” Buck Jones, tournament manager, told the Board.

The Knoxville Open was scheduled for June, but that date has been up in the air while the PGA searches for funding. A final decision on whether the tournament would be played in 2010 was expected March 1, but has been pushed back as negotiations with sponsors continue.

“There’s great hope for a title sponsor at greater value than [former title sponsor] Food City,” Jones said, estimating that such a contribution would come in at around $500,000.

PGA officials have estimated $800,000 would be needed to run the tournament this year.

“And they don’t want to run the tournament this year if it can’t be run properly,” Jones said.

Alderman Jeff Elliott asked just what the Town would receive in exchange for its $10,000 donation.

Jones said he wasn’t authorized to negotiate such things, but told the Board tournament director Patrick Nichol indicated the PGA would provide some nod to Farragut, perhaps in something as simple as acknowledging where the tournament is held.

“As we all know, the tournament has never been held in Knoxville,” Jones said. The tournament has been held in Farragut at Fox Den for 14 years.

“I have been told they would do whatever they could to enhance the visibility of the Town,” he added.

Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche asked if Knoxville or Knox County had donated or would donate any money to the tournament.

“We have not gotten any support from the City of Knoxville or Knox County this year. We have had County support in years past for at least the last 10 years,” Jones said.

Farragut has donated $10,000 to the golf tournament for at least the last eight years.

Elliott asked how the Town’s donation would stack up to others made this year.

Jones said funding packages are set at the $20,000 and $50,000 marks.

“They have about five sponsors right now committed at the $50,000 range; there are probably two or three in the $20,000 range,” Jones said.

Other committed sponsors have donated anything from $1,000 to $15,000.

“So there’s still room to get our [the town of Farragut] name up there, is what I was trying to drive at,” Elliott said.

“Is there still that flexibility at the scope of the gift that we’re thinking of giving?” he asked.

Jones said the acknowledgement to the Town would include mentioning the Town’s name, but it may or may not be in the title of the tournament.

Title sponsors, Jones said, pay to have the title of the event belong to them.

“They get full exclusivity of the title,” Jones said.

Alderman Bob Markli moved that $10,000 be donated to the tournament, contingent on it actually being held. Elliott seconded and the motion was unanimously approved.


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