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RCGA and Canadian Open sponsorship

While I was away, the Blue Blazers at the RCGA announced a “new agreement” had been reached with Bell Canada regarding sponsorship of the Canadian Open, “albeit in a modified role.”

Other than the fact “albeit” should probably never be used in print, given that it sounds like it was written by a lawyer, the truth is that Bell is now no longer a factor in the Canadian Open.

That led to the return of Stephen “D” Ross in the press release announcing Bell’s departure as the title sponsor. Apparently the “D” is being brough out more regularly now:

“Throughout our entire negotiation, what has been continually apparent is Bell Canadas passion for the Canadian Open.” said Stephen D. Ross, RCGA Executive Director. Both sides took the time to understand each others current environment. Strengthened by a mutual appreciation and respect for our National Championship, Bell Canada and the RCGA worked to ensure a future together in Canadian Golf. On behalf of Canadians from coast to coast, I would like to personally thank Bell Canada for their support over the past 12 years and for making a long-term commitment to the future success of our National Championship.”

Stephen would like to thank them, but damn, he’d have rather had their multi-million dollar deal. Though Bell backed away from the main sponsorship, apparently the new deal, “continues a strong 12-year partnership between Bell Canada, the RCGA and Canadas only PGA Tour Event.”

That last bit could be important. The question, to many, now appears to be “how long will there be a PGA Tour event in Canada?” The press release speaks of the need for a sponsor that is interested in a “comprehensive US Network Television and advertising package.” It also sounds like the PGA Tour, once again, is sticking it to the RCGA and Canadian golf fans.

The RCGA remains committed to securing a new title sponsor for the Canadian Open and are considering other sponsorship opportunities in the interim to support the 2006 Canadian Open.

Hmmm…that’s interesting. I thought Bell’s deal ran through to 2007, but apparently the RCGA has let them off the hook. That’s bad news for the RCGA, which makes a majority of its revenue from the Canadian Open. How long can they spend to support the tournament while also dealing with the loss of profits they previously made from it? That’s the question.

In the meantime, here’s some suggestions for potential sponsors that would like U.S. exposure. Bob Weeks has already suggested Research In Motion.

I have some other ideas:

How about the “Tim Hortons Canadian Open” given the high flying value of the donut and coffee chain’s stock and its push into the U.S. market? Or the Biovail Welbutrin Canadian Open? After all, Wellbutrin is an antidepressant and that’s what fans are going to need once the field is announced. And Eugene Melnyk should have some extra cash kicking about after his Sens take the Cup.

The more obvious opportunities are in Calgary, where the oil market has left many companies flush with cash. But that might also require the tournament to head back out West, and we know that is not likely to happen…. still, the Canadian Open presented by Encana has a nice ring.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • “The more obvious opportunities are in Calgary, where the oil market has left many companies flush with cash. But that might also require the tournament to head back out West, and we know that is not likely to happen…. still, the Canadian Open presented by Encana has a nice ring.”

    And why exactly “is (that) not likely to happen”, other than, given how Alberta PGA fans have been treated by the RCGA for over fifty years now, I suspect one reason is no self-respecting RCGA type will dare show his/her face around here.

  • I think there’s plenty of reasons why the RCGA hasn’t taken the tournament to Calgary, and one has to do with the difficulty in finding a course to hold the tournament. There isn’t much long enough, with the appropriate facilities to house the tournament and the course they were looking to build fell through because it didn’t have appropriate water. Now, with Bell gone and with the new date, I doubt they’ll be back any time soon, which is indeed sad.

  • I think Robert is much closer to the real reason the tourney hasn’t been in Calgary. The old and tired “western alienation” inferioity complex won’t help them get the Open any sooner.

  • The other problem with a western site is travel since it will follow the British Open. Going the five time zones from Eastern North America to Britain is tough enough, seven time zones is a bit too much to ask, especially if the tournament following it is back on the east coast.

  • I think Ford might also be an interesting title sponsor. They have some manufacturing plants in Ontario and have dropped title sponsorship of the Ford Championship at Doral now that it has become a WGC event sponsored by CA (replacing the WGC American Express Championship).

    They certainly could benefit from advertising in the US market and if they can make a new sponsorship contract with Mickelson could also require that he play in the Canadian Open as part of the contract.

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