Celebrity tournament secured through 2003
Officials at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship have already secured one big celebrity for the next four consecutive tournaments – Lake Tahoe itself.
Just as Rick Rhoden was coming off of the 18th hole to collect his 1999 tournament title check, officials of the Celebrity Golf Championship LLC announced a new long-term agreement that will keep the 10-year-old event at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course through 2003.
“We actually reached an agreement in principle about three weeks ago,” said Douglas County commissioner and CGT board member Don Miner. “There were a few terms and conditions to iron out, and we were able to do so in time to announce the agreement today. The main thing was that the Park family, who own the land, were able to make the commitment to keep the tournament here.
“We’re extremely pleased that Edgewood Tahoe is desirous of hosting through 2003,” he said. “There is also a one-year option after that.”
The tournament had become so popular that officials had begun to fear that it might fall prey to other venues. Sunday’s agreement was announced by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, the Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority, Edgewood Tahoe, Sports Marketing and Television International and NBC Sports.
The agreement calls for the gaming community to play a more active role in the tournament in return for increased network television exposure, including multiple 30-second commercials on NBC promoting Lake Tahoe tourism.
Also, SMTI and Caesars Tahoe announced an extension of an agreement for Caesars to remain as the tournament’s official host hotel through 2003.
SMTI and NBC own and operate the celebrity golf event.
The tournament has grown extensively since its inception in 1990, to the point where more than 300 celebrities had inquired this year about claiming one of the tournament’s 78 berths. Wayne Gretzky, Dan Marino, John Elway, Emmitt Smith and Jesse “The Body” Ventura were among the marquee names this year.
“A real camaraderie has developed among the players who come here every year,” said University of Florida football coach Steve Spurrier, who has attended the Tahoe tournament for nine years. “It’s in a great location, and there’s a lot to do. I look forward to seeing the guys every year.”
Many of the players keep coming back because of the way the tournament is run.
“This is as close to playing in the PGA as we’re ever going to get,” said former All-Pro quarterback Neil Lomax. “They run things first-class here, and it makes it great. Plus, you can’t beat the location.”
There will be one small change in the tournament over the next four years – 1999 will mark the final time that it will be played on the Fourth of July. Tournament dates over the next four years will be: July 7-9, 2000; July 6-8, 2001; July 12-14, 2002; July 11-13, 2003.
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