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Harrah’s may enter celebrity golf sweepstakes

There could be competition for sponsorship of the Celebrity Golf Championship.

During the Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday, Skip Sayre, from Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, announced that his parent company, Harrah’s Entertainment, is considering a bid for name sponsorship of the Celebrity Golf Championship.

Citing a conflict of interest, he stepped down from leadership of the task force working to put together a community sponsorship package for the championship. Todd Majoris, who represents the Lakeside Inn & Casino on the board, was appointed to oversee the effort.



The task force is an informal group of organizations that want to ensure the championship stays on the South Shore.

A sponsorship package of about $2.5 million is needed to secure the tournament for the year 2000.




“I’m not certain how far we can go with (community sponsorship) if Harrah’s opts out to make its own bid,” said Mel Thomas, general manager of Caesars Tahoe. “The real issue is having the tournament stay in this community.”

Sayre responded that the corporate pursuit of the sponsorship was unlikely to prevent Harrah’s from continued community support.

While expressing continued support for the community effort, with the TDVA playing a leading role, the three remaining board members postponed a decision on a dollar amount to contribute toward the sponsorship.

In other action the board approved a general budget for fiscal year 1999-2000 as required by Nevada state law.

The $2.61 million budget includes $31,000 for administration; $2.5 million for marketing, advertising and promotions; and a $78,000 contingency fund.

“It’s our intent to put as much as humanly possible into marketing and advertising,” Sayre said.

The legislation that created the TDVA requires a tentative budget be submitted to the state by April 15 for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 1999. A legally required public hearing will be held May 20. The board must approve a detailed final budget by June 1.

Regarding specific budget expenses, the board discussed but did not act on whether $680,000 proposed for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority should include portions earmarked for specific programs.

The board did approved $65,000 for the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center. The Douglas County Board of Commissioners is expected to fund another $65,000.

Together, that represents the amount the chamber was granted by the commissioners for the current fiscal year. Historically, the chamber funding has come from room tax revenue used for community services.

Beginning July 1, a portion of those room taxes will begin to flow to the TDVA for tourism promotions. That transition has put the chamber funding in an uncertain position and looking to the TDVA for support.

In personnel matters, the board introduced Shawn M. Elicegui from Lionel, Sawyer & Collins, as the new legal counsel for the organization.

The board also announced the resignation of board chairman Kevin Servatius from his position at Harveys Resort Hotel/Casino. That action makes him ineligible to hold a seat on the TDVA. Harveys is expected to appoint a new representative and the TDVA will elect officers at the April meeting.

“As a board member,” Thomas said, “I’d like to recognize the work and contribution (Servatius made to the board). He did a hell of a job and he’ll be missed.”

The next meeting of the Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority is April 14 at 6 p.m.


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