NBC ensures tourney will be held in ’99 | TahoeDailyTribune.com

NBC ensures tourney will be held in ’99

by Sally J. Taylor

It takes time to match the right company with the right event, according to a national matchmaker of event sponsorships.

Robert O’Connor, executive vice president of Sports Marketing Television International, who along with NBC officials is searching high and low to match South Shore’s Celebrity Golf Championship to a company ready, willing and able to put its name on the event.

“We have had, as you can imagine, a number of meetings with auto companies and computer companies and other potential title sponsors and brought out six interested companies to last year’s event,” O’Connor said. “At this point we don’t have anyone signed for this year.”

The right match is mutually beneficial. The company that buys the opportunity to put its name at the forefront receives national and international exposure; prime advertising placement during the event; and a chance for its officials, or whomever they wish to bless, to hobnob with the celebrity golfers.

Isuzu sponsored the tournament for seven years.

While many companies would like the opportunities offered by sponsorship of the Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe, not many can foot the bill. Those companies that are able to afford it also can afford to be selective. They have a menu of criteria they look for in an event.

Some companies just sponsor sporting events, O’Connor said. Others just entertainment events. The Tahoe event is a hybrid.

“It’s unique,” O’Connor said. “It’s both a serious competitive golf tournament as well as entertainment. In between (the two), it’s difficult to find the right fit.”

A time-consuming search is not unusual, he said.

“We do this all the time. It’s not unusual to take quite some time to find a sponsor willing to spend what it costs. The amount of interest we’re seeing is in line with a lot of other events that we’re on the street selling.”

There is time to keep looking for the right fit. This year’s tournament, scheduled for Fourth of July weekend is secured.

NBC, with local help in the form of complementary lodging, has committed to footing the bill for 1999.

How long will the search continue?

“Once (the 1999 event) is over, we and NBC will take a hard look at the event and make a decision then,” O’Connor said. “It’s too soon to speculate whether we’ll be in Tahoe in the future, but we’ll see. … We don’t want to move it unless we have to.”

O’Connor considers the local effort to secure funding a “healthy atmosphere” that’s not often found in communities hosting an event.

“I think we will attract someone for this event.”

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