Beaufort News

Video: Gov. Haley announces Heritage sponsor

From Staff Reports

Royal Bank of Canada will become the new title sponsor for the Heritage golf tournament through 2016, it was announced today at Harbour Town.

The announcement ends a search that lasted more than a year and a half to find a replacement for previous title sponsor Verizon. The tournament will be called the RBC Heritage starting in 2012 and will be played the week after the Masters, which is the island PGA Tour event’s traditional time slot in April at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Boeing, which recently opened a plant in North Charleston, will serve as “local presenting sponsor,” according to a news release.

The announcement was made by Gov. Nikki Haley, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and officials with RBC and the Heritage Classic Foundation.

“This is a great day in South Carolina, and we’re going to celebrate,” said Haley. “We said from day one that finding a private sponsor for the Heritage was one of this administration’s top priorities — because the tournament is an opportunity for us to showcase our state as one of this country’s premier destinations for business and tourists — and that we shouldn’t rely on taxpayers to foot the bill.”

The Hilton Head Island Town Council voted earlier in the day to approve a five-year, $3.2 million deal to buy TV advertising spots to help secure RBC’s sponsorship.

Mayor Drew Laughlin said the Heritage Classic Foundation, which runs the island’s annual PGA Tour event, requested the town buy one-eighth of the TV advertising spots that normally would go to a title sponsor. The foundation requesting a five-year commitment worth about $3.2 million, which council approved in today’s vote.

Laughlin said the foundation made clear in its request that the money would be necessary as part of a broader package to secure the tournament’s future. He has said previously the town would not commit to future funding of the Heritage without some assurance that its spending would make a difference.

Under the proposal, the town would pay $562,500 the first year, with a 5 percent increase per year in the following years, for eight of the 64, 30-second ad spots split between CBS and the Golf Channel that the foundation has rights to. The town would receive four spots on each network, Laughlin said.

Laughlin said it is uncertain how the town would pay for the proposed ad-buy. Laughlin said he favors using a mix of accommodations and hospitality taxes, with the possibility of dipping again into an emergency advertising reserve account.

The 43rd rendition of the tournament was held in April without a title sponsor. The tournament secured a spot on the PGA Tour’s schedule this year without a title sponsor by pledging all $4 million of its reserves and securing $1 million commitments from both the town and Beaufort County.