I was bracing for this news for two months.
I heard from a good friend of mine on the Champions Tour that their stop in Tampa Bay was kaput.
Not only to me, but to my friend, and many of the Champion Tour players, this is a sad day.
The Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am and the short-lived Encompass Insurance Pro-Am, which moved to Chicago, had been a staple in this community for 25 years.
This is what chaps me. We lose our spot in the season rotation to the Greater Gwinnett Championship in Duluth, Ga., for goodness sakes.
This is darn right embarrassing to this community, and to the general business sector.
Are you telling me Duluth, Georgia can find a company to host this tournament, but we can't?
Don't give me this economy excuse. It takes only $3M a year or so to host this tournament.
Are you telling me we don't have at least 10 companies in the Tampa Bay area that can do it?
Had it not been for Chris Sullivan and Bob Basham, two of the Outback Steakhouse founders, we wouldn't have had squat here.
I'm sure this bit of news doesn't sit well with them either.
It seemed, for the longest time, every time there was a sports crisis around here, they were always stepping up to the plate.
Those two should go into the Tampa Bay Sports Hall of Fame for what they've done, and are still doing!
What's next to go, the regular PGA tour event at Innisbrook?
Grant you, sponsoring the PGA tour event and the Champions event is comparing apples to oranges. We're talking $7-8M/yr. to be on the big boys tour.
But, there is no conceivable way one company in Tampa Bay couldn't have stepped up to sponsor the Champions Tour event. No way.
To say I'm disappointed is an understatement.
Being replaced by a tourney in Duluth, GA.- are you kidding me?