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PGA TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT
June 16, 2011
GOVERNOR HALEY: We want to thank all of you for being here. First of all, Hilton Head has continued to be a great attraction for South Carolina for so many reasons. One, it's a great tourist destination.
Two, every time we can get it on TV to talk about this golf tournament and show what a great place it is, it has everyone looking back at South Carolina with just a true sense of pride.
So with, that I don't want to hold up any exciting news, but I want to tell you that this is a great day for South Carolina. It's a great day for the country and it's a day to celebrate.
So with that, I'm going to turn it over to our PGA TOUR Commissioner, Tim Finchem who I have gotten to know very well, and I can tell you has truly worked very hard on this, as well, thank you.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank cyou, Governor. And I just want to say before I give the actual announcement, that a lot of what has happened to get us to this point is because of the governor's involvement, and I'll come back and say a couple of more things about that in a minute.
But fundamentally we are here to announce today that the future of the PGA TOUR event here, The Heritage, is safe; that RBC will become the sponsor of The RBC Heritage.
I will introduce you to Jim Little from RBC in a minute, but I just want to say that obviously from a PGA TOUR speculative, this is great news. But it's also great news for the volunteers and the foundation that have been so involved in this tournament going back all the way to 1969, which actually was just at a time when the PGA TOUR itself as an organization was one year old.
It's good news for the charities in the community that have benefitted on average of over a million dollars of contributions every year during those decades. It's good news for economic impact. I think Clemson has estimated the economic impact every year of this tournament has been in excess of $80 million to this general area and the low country of South Carolina.
It's good news for our players, because our players love this golf course. As you know, they are very loyal to the golf course, and it's great news for our fans. And I can tell you personally as a fan, this is one of my favorite tournaments to watch all year because of the uniqueness of the golf course, the amount of short game shots you get to see, and it's just been a fantastic part of the PGA TOUR over the years and we are delighted that it's going to continue with great sponsorship.
I want to thank and congratulate Jim Little of RBC. Jim is sitting on my left. Jim is Chief Brand and Communication Officer at RBC. I'm not so sure everybody knows, but RBC is already one of our really good partners up in Canada, the RBC Canadian Open, and I can just tell that you this is a company that knows golf, knows sports marketing, is hands on, and will work with the foundation here to build this tournament on into the future.
I want to especially thank Governor Hayley. I don't know in all the years that we have been through from time to time the difficulty of pulling together all that has to happen to build a PGA TOUR event; I don't recall a time when any state official or any elected official, mayor, governor, senator, has put the energy and the time and the commitment behind making this happen as the Governor has. And I'm telling you, she has been on this 24/7 for a number of weeks, and she was never going to take no for an answer. We are delighted that she is part of this partnership now and has committed her personal involvement going forward beyond just securing sponsorship.
I also would like to thank Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been a big supporter of the PGA TOUR over the years and a long-time friend ever a lot of people in this room; Representative Jim Clyburn, who along with Senator Graham was on the phone to us a number of times encouraging us; and of course, Representative Clyburn is a big supporter of our First Tee Program around the country.
Finally I would like to thank the Boeing Company for committing to becoming the local presenting sponsor of this tournament over the next five years.
Like RBC, Boeing has been a partner of the PGA TOUR for a number of years with their sponsorship of our Champions Tour event up in Washington. And if you want to get away from this beautiful part of the country sometime and see something pretty cool, the tournament in Seattle, it is very, very special and it gets you to the partnership with Boeing. So you have two great companies here that really understand marketing in sports to partner with.
Lastly I want to say, before I introduce Jim, that the PGA TOUR represents helping people. We have over a hundred tournaments around the country, all of which are organized for charity; but also, we would like to think that when we make these partnerships, we stand by them, and we are delighted with the help of the Governor and these two great companies, we are here to make this announcement today.
The PGA TOUR is committed to this community and is committed to the people in this room who have built it over the last 40 years and we plan to continue to build it in the years to could.
We are at a vital point in the PGA TOUR, and I won't bore you with all of the details. We are at a point where the next ten years looks very bright indeed, and with that, let me turn it over to Jim, and let me re-emphasize that I don't know of any tournament on the PGA TOUR that has taken the steps to improve itself over the last number of years, five or ten years, as the Canadian Open. And it's because of RBC's partnership and their commitment to that tournament that it's become one of the premiere events on the PGA TOUR, and you have a great partner in this great company; Jim Little.
JIM LITTLE: Thank you, Commissioner, and Governor Haley. We have 80,000 colleagues at RBC, so I am representing all of them. We are very excited to be here today. I got here at 6:45 this morning and the first guy I saw was Steve Wilmot. And Steve looked at me -- I met him a couple of months ago, and at that meeting he looked nervous and he didn't look himself. This morning he said, "You gave me goosebumps" when I saw you this morning.
I said, "If all we can do is give you goosebumps, then it's going to be a good day every day."
We flew in from Toronto last night, and one of the things when you're a big company and not based in this region, is you think about life in business terms and Congress terms. But, it's way more than that, let me tell you, just being here and being so welcomed. So we appreciate the welcome you've put on, and everything you've done.
Governor Haley, we would not be here without you. And Rick, we would not be here without you, because we made an offer to the Commissioner and his people a little while back, and every piece of this puzzle had to work for this to work; so it's a true partnership. We are very happy to be here.
We are the fifth-biggest financial institution in North America, probably none of you know that. We are in 56 countries and we are very big into golf; and we are not gig into golf because my president thinks, I like being big into golf. He calls me the VP of golf, which I think is an insult. But we are big into golf because golf really works for our brand and it really works for the target market we are trying to attract to our company.
Tim, you and your team put together a great program for us. Dan Glod and Tom Wade and Jay Monahan and Julie have been great partners. Governor, your people and Tim Pearson, and even doing favors up until last night getting us in here, have been wonderful.
So we are thrilled to be here. We are thrilled at the human reaction to our involvement, and we hope to be here for a very long time and look forward to being your guest at this event.
GOVERNOR HALEY: I just have to say this about Jim. You know, very few times can you go and actually talk to a company and say, 'I need you,' and them really get it. And the fact that they not only just wanted to come and talk to us about sponsor and relationship, they really wanted to know about the tournament. They wanted to know about the people. They wanted to know about the community. They wanted to know what it meant.
So Jim Westlake was great, as well. But if you don't know this, they came to The Heritage this year. And a lot of you heard me say, you know, we have talked about this, but you don't know it until you've lived it, until you've seen it, and until you've felt it. And I want -- Jim, I want you to know, that your company has just been stellar to deal with. They never said no. They said, "How can we get this done."
And the sacrifice and the time and the energy that you personally put in, in communicating with your company and communicating with Tim at the PGA TOUR and communicating with me, and all of the people that were at the table has just meant so much.
And so what I want you to know is regardless of how big you are in the world, you are now -- I can tell you, you can take back to your company, that RBC is the official bank for South Carolina, I will tell you that.
And so now I would like to go to our second great friend of the day, Rick Stephens is here on behalf of Boeing, and Rick, I'll go ahead and let you make your comments and then I'll brag on you after that. Rick Stephens from Boeing, everybody.
RICK STEPHENS: Governor, thanks very much, and it is an honor to allow us to be part of what's going on here today in this great event and this great announcement. We really look forward to joining at tradition of The Heritage here in South Carolina, and particularly the most popular stop here at The Heritage, and continue to expand our relationship.
One of the things that excites us most, and me particularly about this event is more than $1 million will go out to local South Carolina charities. We are also proud to be a part of what goes on as we continue to try and grow and faster the capabilities of young people, those who may not be as fortunate, but what a great opportunity and I compliment the PGA TOUR for its leadership role that it provides in helping provide more outlets in the community.
Boeing, we really enjoy a great relationship with in South Carolina and, I, too, want to thank the Governor for your leadership. What you've help and done to help and support us, it's a great partnership and we are proud to be citizens here in the great State of South Carolina.
Also want to take the opportunity to thank Senator Graham for the leadership he provides. There's a lot of things that go on, and it's great to have a wonderful supporter representing this state in Washington, D.C. to help all of the challenges and the opportunities that we face in a broad base commercial airplane business like we have today.
And you know as we look forward, we have a great ribbon cutting last Friday the Governor attended up in Charleston as we did a ribbon cutting on a ten-acre facility where we are really looking forward to building the new 787 Dreamliner and assembly starts here, and we have a great work force in South Carolina and they are going to build the best airplanes in the world.
So it's great way for us to be able to say thank you very much, glad we are able to participate under the leadership of RBC and really pleased to be here today. Thank you.
GOVERNOR HALEY: You know what I have to say about Boeing, is that when RBC came to the table, we knew that we had some making up to do. We knew we had a little bit more to go. And the one thing that I can say that will sum this up the most is: Boeing didn't have to do this. They didn't have to do it. And they did. And they did because they love South Carolina, because they are a true corporate partner and they wanted to be a friend to us at a time that we needed it.
And I will tell you that you are representative of an iconic company in this country, but you are now an iconic South Carolina company, and we thank you very, very much for that.
And now it is my pleasure to introduce Simon Fraser with The Heritage Classic Foundation.
SIMON FRASER: I certainly want to repeat the thanks to RBC and Boeing and to the Governor and to the PGA TOUR who we have been working diligently with, frankly, for 24 months. It was 24 months ago that Verizon informed us that they were not renewing.
So this is a great day, long time coming, but I think it's well worth the wait. We look forward to a wonderful relationship with our two partners here and I know it will work out great.
Now there's a third component to this that I want to thank, also. We would not be here without the actions taken by the town of Hilton Head, and Beaufort County last year and the town of Hilton Head today and I want to thank the support of the mayor and town council, and Weston Newton with the county council and the county council for everything they did to get us to here today.
Also, I want to thank the entire board, the volunteers, the staff, and frankly, their spouses. It's been a trying time. I'm afraid Mr. Wilmot may even have lost some weight during this 24 loss. (Laughter) I know his blood pressure has gone up but hopefully we can get him back on track soon.
It's a great day. And one other person that's been mentioned, Senator Graham is a great friend of the tournament. He comes whenever he can. He likes to play in the tournament. He participates. He does whatever he can. He could not be here today, but he's asked Paula Beaufait (ph), who is a local resident and been active in our organization to read a statement. I would like to ask Paula to come up to the podium and present his statement.
PAULA BEAUFAIT: When I talked to Senator Graham yesterday, he said, "I'm going to send you something, I want you to read, but you are very capable of speaking for me, and that is probably very dangerous because I am certainly no Lindsey Graham.
He is a champion for South Carolina but I will tell you one thing: In South Carolina, we talk about 'Team South Carolina' all the time, but we have got a great team in our governor, Nikki Haley and in Lindsey Graham, and they have been tireless workers on our behalf and I would venture to say, that we would not be here today without them, and governor, we know that you gave us your word today. You are keeping your word; that reminds me, promises made, promises kept.
He also asked if I would just personally thank the Commissioner. He has great respect for you, and shares a good friendship with you, and that is very special to him. He is thrilled to have our new partners here, and asked me to tell you both so. And he also asked me to express his thanks to the Heritage Classic Board, and to the town of Hilton Head Island, and to the county of Beaufort, and to all of the other people in this room who have made today possible.
So I have done that. Lindsey Graham is a remarkable public servants. He loves South Carolina. He loves this tournament. He loves Hilton Head Island and the South Carolina low country, and I can tell you, if there were anyway in the world for him to be in this room today, he'd be here, and I am sorry he can't. So on his behalf, I'd like to read you what he wrote last evening.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: "We are honored to welcome RBC bank and the Boeing Company as proud new sponsors of The Heritage. We look forward to a long and productive partnership with both of these companies.
"I want to express my sincere appreciation to PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem, Governor Nikki Haley for her tireless work on this project, Simon Fraser and Steve Wilmot with The Heritage, our local community leaders and members of the Congressional delegation. I truly appreciate everyone's hard work in helping to make this happen.
"The Heritage is one of the premiere events on the PGA TOUR. The tournament not only showcases the incredible skills of golfers from around the globe; it's also a tremendous opportunity to showcase our state. And most importantly, every penny of profit is donated to charities throughout South Carolina and Georgia.
"RBC, Boeing and The Heritage will benefit from the relationship announced today, as it gives all parties a wonderful platform to showcase their unique brands to the entire world. RBC and Boeing have made a wise investment here today, and their decision to support this prestigious PGA event will pay dividends for the companies and South Carolina for years to come.
"RBC and Boeing, thank you for your support of The Heritage. We are honored to have you here and we look forward to a long relationship.
"Finally to the spectators at next year's Heritage Pro-Am who watch from the right side of the fairway -- (laughter) -- I hope to play again, and you are being given fair warning. My flights haven't gotten one bit better. Thank you all for being here. Lindsey Graham."
GOVERNOR HALEY: So there's a couple of things that I do have to say and some thank-yous that I do need to do. The first is that when we were dealing with The Heritage, you all know this goes back a couple of years where the talk was that we were going to go to the government to sponsor this tournament and I said, I am not going to allow The Heritage, which is a fabulous tournament, to ever be sponsored by the taxpayers of South Carolina.
So it took a lot of team work, and it took a lot of effort to prove results, because that's what we really wanted to do. We were proving results. I was telling my in-laws that they don't have to leave the island now, because they live here. And I was worried I couldn't come back. And so I said, the big joke was, I've got to get a sponsor, or I can't come for Thanksgiving. What we wanted to do was emphasize the fact this does not happen by itself, it takes a lot of people to come together. Jim Little at RBC, we can't thank you enough.
I remember talking to Jim and saying, "If you do this, South Carolina will absolutely wrap their arms around you because they will be so grateful."
So what I hope -- it trickled out that RBC was there, and at the end of the tournament, everyone started singing, RBC, RBC. My hope is every time you walk by we say that constantly and let you feel the love.
Rick Stephens, I want to thank you and Judd Ludig (ph) and Tim Keating for being amazing for coming to the forefront whenever South Carolina needs you. You already made us proud by stepping up and having the company come to South Carolina but the fact that you are a great corporate citizen, we can't thank you enough.
I want to thank Tim Finchem at the PGA TOUR. God bless him; it took a patient man to deal with me, calling him constantly, and Tim and Tom Wade were rock stars in the way they dealt with this and the professionalism you bring, and I just greatly thank you and South Carolina appreciates your efforts very, very much.
I have to thank my partner in crime, and I'm devastated he's not here today, Duane Parrish, the director of our Parks & Recreation and tourism. He worked so hard on this with me. Literally every day we would read our comments in the paper saying, we are going to do this, we are going to do this and we get on the phone going, oh my God, we have got to do this. And Amy Duffy from PRT is here, thank you, Amy and please tell Duane that he was mentioned and missed and we appreciate his help so much.
And then I want to thank Senator Lindsey Graham was a great help when it came to this because whenever we needed a call made, whenever we needed something done, whenever we were trying to do this, he was there. And he would constantly check in with me and say, how are we doing, what do you need, and when you are going through something like this, you can't have enough people to help you with that. So I am very sorry that he's not here today because I know he would very much want to be.
The mayor was great yesterday. We basically needed to pull on the mayor some, and he was there every step of the way, the town council, the county council, the delegation. And what I hope you realize is, that we showed that can't is not an option and we got it done and we got it done for the people of this state and we got it done for the people of this country and all I can say is, God bless The Heritage because that's going to be one party next year. Thank you very, very much. God bless you.
Q. Tim, will The Heritage get its spot back on the schedule now, the week after the Masters?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No. We are going to play it two weeks before Christmas this year. (Laughter).
GOVERNOR HALEY: I was getting ready to turn off his mic.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: (Telephone operator interruption) ... the question about this year. Now there may be some movement in the odd years, but the plan, and we go into television discussions here in a few weeks, but the plan is that we resume its normal weekend.
Q. Some people out there may say, it's just a golf tournament. Tell us how important it is that it's back and it's safe.
GOVERNOR HALEY: Because this is so much more than a golf tournament. First of all, when you talk about just the tourism dollars that come in from that week, that in itself is huge. But secondly, the exposure we get. People get to see how gorgeous South Carolina is from across the country and across the world and that's huge for us, and very rarely does anybody ever come visit the coast of South Carolina and not want to buy a house here or not want to bring their family here, and in a time when jobs are so important and economic development is so important, The Heritage is a great economic development tool.
It's a great place where we bring companies to see our state to, talk to them about putting businesses here, to see what we can do to further create jobs in South Carolina, and as much as we love the golf tournament itself, it's a great economic development tool.
So there's some selfishness in it for me so that we can continue to bring in jobs and we use The Heritage to do it.
Q. Can you just tell us what the breakdown; what RBC is contributing and what Boeing is contributing monetarily?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We don't like to announce specific dollars, but I think it's fair to say that the overall financial commitment is consistent with the norm on the PGA TOUR. Every tournament varies a little bit on how they get to those numbers. There is some variance here but it's not unusual.
We are delighted with the participation and the town here at a level. It's not dissimilar to the participation we have with our Hawai'i tournaments that are focused so much tourism, and since there's so much value; the Governor referred to the telecast, but from a global standpoint, it's really in the $45 million range, what it would cost to get this kind of exposure from a tourist standpoint. So it really adds up in the values there.
But RBC is in a traditional title role and taking the lead financially because of that. A lot of other tournaments have local presenting sponsors, as well. Boeing is in that position, and we get to the numbers that we have to have to pay for a purse that's competitive, because the players, as you know, are independent contractors; they can decide where they play, and also, to support our telecast.
And then here, the week of the tournament, the staging of the tournament, at a level that's commensurate with what you see around the PGA TOUR now.
Now, it's true, of course you have an advantage, because we took over last year some potential sponsors to last year's tournament, this year's tournament, and when you get up and see the views, you have an advantage here, for sure. But taking advantage of that costs money, and for the customers of RBC, the customers of Boeing, the customers of the State, the people interested in tourism and travel, it all costs money. But I would put it right squarely in the norm; not significantly higher, certainly not lower than the costs we see week-in and week-out at premiere tournaments. And again, this is an invitational tournament and enjoys a premiere place on our schedule.
Q. How long has it been since the initial contact with RBC happened, and the entire negotiation process?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I guess it's in the months, original discussions been going on for several months, and maybe some softer lead-up discussions prior to that. But you know, all of this started to move, let's see, the Governor started calling morning, noon and night about three months ago (laughter). I'm just kidding here. But she's been quite intense on this subject.
But it's gone on for several months, as it normally does, because there are a variety of different things that are involved. There's a governance system within companies. They scrutinize these things in today's world very, very carefully before it even starts to get momentum, eventually gets to their board of directors for very view, because it's a very high-profile commitment. So it's taken a good amount of time.
And I would say, in recent years, any sponsorship takes longer, because sports marketing dollars are part of an overall marketing budget; they are not quite as big as they were ten years ago because of the economy. So companies are very, very careful about how they spend their dollars and again, it's a great signal when RBC makes the commitment that they do, because it says something about the value of what PGA TOUR golf is, and also being part of The Heritage.
Q. How long did it start -- the talk with The Heritage Foundation, the Governor --
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I'll let Jim answer that question.
JIM LITTLE: Because we are a PGA TOUR sponsor already, we have ongoing relations with Tim's people and we speak with them on a weekly basis. But we have known for about two months, that we were not going to be able to say no to the Governor. We figured it would be just easier to say yes. (Laughter).
Q. Can you talk on behalf of the players, politicians and business people get the job done but it's the players that people come to see. Any feedback from the players?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, as I said before, the players are very loyal to playing here, going way back. And it's a function of the golf course largely, I would say. You start with the golf course. And then second and close is the hospitality here, the way people reach out to the players. A lot of players stay in private homes. They make friends over the years.
In terms of the quality of play, and with a modern golf course, this is a unique quality of play: Small greens, a focus on accuracy, a focus on short game. And we have seen so many playoffs determined by short game prowess over the years. It's just something that the players really like.
And then they are fans, too. So they see the beauty of Hilton Head on television. They all watch themselves play -- they don't admit it, but they do. And as a consequence of all of that, what I've been answering for the last two years from players is, you know, are we going to be okay with The Heritage. It's sort of the first thing I hear from an awful lot of players starting with Davis Love, who is on our board, right on down the list.
So we are well aware. And actually, if you go back to in deciding these things, this is a small market. As I was saying to the Governor earlier, you have done a phenomenal job in a small market in a day and age when companies sometimes don't see past, that they don't see past the size of the market.
In Jim's case, the RBC people, they understand the global relevance of what happens here in 225 countries, and the enormous -- we average like 26 million people will tune into this telecast in the United States next year. So that's real value.
But it's a struggle with some companies, and I think it's a tribute to what you've done here that has recruited the players that you've got over the years, and of course, that's had a lot to do with the value it's generated. So it's a good partnership and it's now going to continue. We are excited about that.
GOVERNOR HALEY: And I'm glad you mentioned that, because the players that contacted us and contacted my office saying how much they loved this tournament, was really a great thing. And to have the wives of the players come up and say, we love to bring our family every year, please let us know how to help; they were really instrumental in wanting to show their support and their love for this island and this tournament. So it was great.
Q. Were there any players that come to mind that helped?
JIM LITTLE: We spoke to 40 players in the spring and we have a team called 'Team RBC' who is Luke Donald and Ernie Els and Matt Kuchar and played with Zach Johnson, every one of those people -- not one person said, unless something else extraordinary happened, that they wouldn't be here.
So when we were digging in and figuring out what was wrong with it, there was nothing wrong. Everyone wants this to be great and players want to play here, so, it made it real easy.
GOVERNOR HALEY: And they got on the phone. They got on the phone which was the great thing.
Q. How close was Hilton Head to losing the tournament?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we looked at possibly merging it with another tournament. If, at the end of the day, we just were not going to lose the ability to have the players play here. There had to be some other way to address that. We looked at adding another tournament someplace and maybe merging an existing tournament -- I don't want to go into details on that. But we had contingency ways to do this. But this was clearly far and away the best option to continue the tradition of how this tournament was structured, and we are just delighted it worked out.
Maybe I wouldn't have said this two weeks ago, but we were not planning to leave. (Laughter) But it probably would have been a very different kind of tournament and one that wouldn't resonate as well here in the tournament. But we would have figured something out. Another option would have been to bring the Champions Tour here, all of the players on the Champions Tour that have played here.
Again, having this broadcast as part of the ensemble of tournament golf on network television, from this place, is really important to us. It's not just about -- it's about the overall texture, scope, feel, tradition, of what we are all about. And so it was very, very important. So when the governor got involved and Senator Graham took the lead on this, it's very heartening, and we just provided support.
Q. How long is the contract between RBC and The Heritage?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Five years.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you very much for your participation today and congratulations to the panel. Thank you all very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports