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August 5, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of all of us at The Greenbriar, thank you so much for joining us for this very important and exciting announcement. I'm honored to introduce the gentlemen who will be speaking here at The Greenbriar. In the center, the chairman and owner The Greenbriar, Mr. Jim Justice. I'd also like to welcome and introduce World Golf Hall of Fame member and Greenbriar golf professional emeritus, Mr. Tom Watson. Also with us this afternoon is the governor of West Virginia, Mr. Joe Manchin.
If I could just take a moment to introduce the other folks with us today, the chief of PGA TOUR operations, Mr. Rick George. We were hoping that the first lady was going to be joining you. We also have Mr. Lester George of George Golf Design, the architect of the redesign restored Old White Course.
Of course I can't leave out two very special ladies, Mrs. Kathy Justice And Ms. Jill Justice.
I'd also like to introduce delegates Tom Campbell and Ray Canterbury from Greenbriar County.
We are delighted to have the commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Mr. Tim Finchem, joining us via satellite from the media center at the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational, being played at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
Commissioner, we will turn it over to you now for your opening remarks.
TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Lynn, and good afternoon, everyone. We're delighted to be with you from Akron today for a very special announcement, and that is to announce that there has been an agreement reached between the PGA TOUR and the Greenbriar, whereby the Greenbriar will host us for a PGA TOUR event in the summer for the next six years and we hope longer than that, and that our date starting in 2010 will be the week of July 26 to August 1.
Today I'm delighted that Governor Joe Manchin is there with us to demonstrate the strong support of the State of West Virginia.
I also want to say that we are delighted with the opportunity to return golf at the PGA TOUR level to one of the truly great resorts and golf destinations in the world. We're excited about the new ownership and leadership at The Greenbriar, and I'd like to congratulate Jim Justice, the chairman and owner of The Greenbriar for making this happen.
I'd also like to say parenthetically that we are indebted to our own Slugger White, our longtime tournament director, for facilitating an early conversation with Jim, who is a lifelong friend Of Slugger's, and thank you for that, Slugger.
Jim Justice has shown a real passion and commitment, not just to host a PGA TOUR event, but to host an event and build it into a premier stop on the PGA TOUR. The Greenbriar has a long and storied history in golf. The white course and the other golf courses there at The Greenbriar have hosted a variety of competitions over the years, the 1979 Ryder Cup, the 1994 Solheim Cup, which I attended, a Champions Tour event in the mid-'80s.
In addition, Sam Snead was the first golf professional emeritus at The Greenbriar for a good number of years, and Tom Watson is the second golf professional emeritus, and I'm delighted that Tom is with us today.
Let me say, Tom, on behalf of everybody that's watching this conference, congratulations to you for that terrific run at Turnberry a couple of weeks ago.
I sent Tom an e-mail that said I've been watching golf since I was eight years old. I can't recall sitting on the edge of my seat and living and dying with every shot that I was watching for four hours.
Also, I should point out that the old white course, which is where we will play next summer, was designed by Charles Blair MacDonald. You may recall C.B. McDonald was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in the last couple of years. He was assisted in that effort of design by Seth Raynor, and in 2006 there was an extensive renovation led by Lester George to restore the old white to its original design, and Lester George is a good friend of the PGA TOUR as he designed the First Tee facility that opened a few years ago in downtown Richmond, Virginia.
I think the PGA TOUR players are going to love going to The Greenbriar and joining The Greenbriar as a destination resort and being able to play on this historic golf course, the Old White.
Before I conclude these remarks, I'll be happy to answer questions later, let me just say that more than anything else, we are excited about this opportunity because of the enthusiasm we felt in our conversations with Jim Justice and his team at The Greenbriar. There is no doubt in our minds that every effort is going to be made to make this truly a quality event, an event that belongs as part of our FedExCup season, an event that I think fans around the world will enjoy taking advantage of watching the best players in the world play.
With that, Lynn, I'll turn it back to you.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Commissioner Finchem. And now let's hear from Mr. Jim Justice.
JIM JUSTICE: Well, thank you so much, and what a day. What an incredible day. The commissioner mentioned Slugger White just a second ago. I've got to tell you the story real quickly, but Slugger and I played high school golf together. He called me not long ago and said, Jimmy, what in the world are you doing, and everything, when we announced that we bought The Greenbriar. And I said, Slugger, I'm not going to let you off that easy. I said, Slugger, now you've got to help me some way, somehow, we've got to get a PGA event here.
He said to me, wow, that's a tough nut to crack there. But Slugger, I'm sure you're listening. We cracked the nut (laughter), and I am so proud of all the people and all the licks that went into cracking the nut, and we finally got it done, and what a story.
A lot of people said, well, you know, what's this going to do for you? What's this going to do for The Greenbriar? Well, it's obvious as it can be; what's this going to do for the PGA TOUR players? I think it's obvious on that, too. I mean, The Greenbriar -- this will restore The Greenbriar from the standpoint of notoriety back to what The Greenbriar ought to be. The Greenbriar is a five-star bloodline A to Z. It's been that since forever. We've lost one of our stars. We're going to get that star back.
The other thing, though, is from the PGA TOUR, the players, I mean, the players will love this place. This place has so much to offer from the standpoint of families and amenities, 50-some amenities, 6,500 acres. It's just got all that. But all that is given to me.
The real what will this do is this: If you have the level of passion that I have for our great state, and what an honor today to be joined by our governor and Tom Watson, and I looked at them both and neither one of them are sweating, and I'm sitting here in front of these lights sweating like a stuck hog. The real deal is simple. You've got to be able to not sweat if you're Tom Watson and win the British Open 16,000 times. And you've got to be able to not sweat if you're the governor and have darts thrown at you from time to time. That's not me.
But this opportunity for West Virginia is unbelievable, and you know, to me what it's all about is this. I think no question it'll help The Greenbriar, no question it'll be great for the players. But if you have a passion and a love for your state like I have for West Virginia and it's genuine as it can be, and you love these great people that are working here, we came right on the verge of losing maybe in some ways at least a treasure, a West Virginia treasure that was of unbelievable value to West Virginia, but a national treasure, as well.
And maybe if a chain were to have bought it, you know, who knows what they would have done with it. Maybe they would have done great things. I can't really debate that. But I know what I'm going to do, and I know how great our people are, and I know the smiles on our faces, but it's bigger than that. It's an opportunity really and truly to introduce the world to our Norman Rockwell painting here that everybody just can't see. It is so important. I really believe as the world comes, and as the world is touched by genuine real people, craftsmen, a state that has four seasons, all the greatness that West Virginia has, I think they'll see the real deal.
And so it goes beyond The Greenbriar, it goes beyond the players to me, it goes to what I really feel, and that is a genuine passion for West Virginia.
And so if I could at this time -- you know, I'm supposed to introduce Tom Watson. Well, how do you introduce Tom Watson? I mean, I could tell you real quickly, he called me -- he's our emeritus here. He called me and asked me to play golf. Well, I hadn't played 18 holes of golf in 20 years. I thought, well, this is a death sentence, but this is Tom Watson.
Well, I made it 16 holes, and honestly, it started raining right after I hit it probably 230 yards dead into the lake, and when it started raining, they sounded the horn, and I know the Lord made that happen. (Laughter). It was the greatest day and everything, but Tom was playing phenomenal at the time, and I told him this, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart and then I'll shut up, but what he accomplished with his British Open victory in my opinion almost transcends beyond anything that you can think of as far as winning a championship. You've got five, why did you need six? I mean, really and truly.
Some day they'll maybe rename golf, but they'll have to name it Watson, because this is the class, class of class, and that's what golf is supposed to be all about. So I bring you Tom Watson.
TOM WATSON: What Jim didn't say is he had me down in the first nine holes, and his shoulder kicked in. He's got kind of a bum shoulder he hasn't decided to get fixed so he can play some golf, but this guy can play. He knows what to do with it.
I've been associated with The Greenbriar now since 1979 when I first came here for the Ryder Cup. You may know the story. My wife was very pregnant at the time, and I asked the PGA, please, if I have the opportunity to be with my wife when she has the baby, I'd like to have that opportunity and get an alternate to come in and play in the Ryder Cup.
Well, as things worked out, either good or bad, depending on how you look at it, Thursday morning right before the Ryder Cup, I get a call from Linda, she said, "Come home." So I got on the horn to Jim Searle, who was working here at the hotel at the time, and Jim had arranged for a plane to take me home. And guess whose plane was that, Mr. Justice's dad. He had provided a plane for me to go back to Kansas City.
Well, the one thing that I remember very succinctly there is when I got here on the Monday prior to the Ryder Cup, I remember seeing this place for the first time and how it wowed me, absolutely wowed me. And continuing on the next couple of days, just the manner and the way the people treated you. I really fell in love with the place immediately, and I told my wife at that time, I said, we've got to come back here and spend some time here. It's a great, great place.
And after that I brought people in my business here to entertain them on a yearly basis, to come back to The Greenbriar. I always enjoyed the hospitality here and the community here.
To have the opportunity to be the pro emeritus here, as I said, I had too big a shoes to fill. Sam's shoes were impossible to fill. There's a player who -- actually as I was looking on the wall inside here, if you have the time, they have wonderful things here at The Greenbriar to show you about Sam Snead, but one picture got my attention, and that was him swinging a golf club, it was one of the caricatures of him, and it said on the picture something to the effect, "Sam showed the young ones how to do it." Well, kind of apropos. He was 61 when he finished second in the LA Open. That's how Good Sam was. Sam was a great, great player all the way up through his middle 70s. I remember always being in awe of his golf swing, and actually I wasn't the only one.
Playing the TOUR, he'd come out early in the years when I played in the '70s, he'd go start to warm up and practice, and I'll tell you, there was a lot of players who had -- for some odd reason they had to get in their golf bag like this, and they had to maybe try on some new gloves like this, but what they're really doing is Sam is over here practicing and they're all watching Sam hit the ball. Why did they do that? Because Sam had probably the finest swing ever.
I always felt just by watching Sam hit the golf ball, I actually got better. I actually swung the golf club better, which I did.
So the heritage of this place can be summed up in the elegance of it, the class of the people who serve you here. I mean, I don't know how many employees, Jim, 1,600, something along that line, just the class with which you're treated here. And that sums up my feeling for The Greenbriar. I'm honored to be the pro emeritus here.
As far as the tournament is concerned, it's a continuation of what this place is all about, and that is its golf, from C.B. McDonald's old white course to The Greenbriar course, the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup has been mentioned before, to The Greenbriar Open back in a time when a great friend of mine, Herman Scharlau beat Sam -- he either beat him outright or in a playoff here back in the 50s. Herman Scharlau was a great friend of mine back in Kansas, a golf pro here, so I had a Kansas City connection there. So I have over the years grown some roots here, and I will continue to grow my roots here at The Greenbriar.
I thank you very, very much.
JIM JUSTICE: What an honor. Now I get to introduce our governor. I get to tell you this real quick. He's also my turkey hunting buddy, and I can tell you this story very, very quickly, but there's no question he's our greatest governor. He has enthusiasm and passion for our state like nobody's business.
I'm not sure he's a great turkey hunter. We go, we set up, the turkeys come and everything, and I turn and I look, and he's received a text message from somebody, and he's sitting there fiddling with it, and then he stands up. I said, "What are we doing, governor?" So we leave that turkey and we go set up on another turkey and the turkey is coming like crazy. All of a sudden his phone rings. Well, there was a major flooding going on in the southern part of our state, and I turned around, and I said, "You've got to get your priorities straight. That's all there is to." But anyway, you're a great friend and a wonderful, wonderful governor. What a wonderful ambassador for our state, governor Joe Manchin.
JOE MANCHIN: And that is the truth. Now, I've gotten my new ring tone, which is a turkey call, so I won't embarrass Jim anymore when we're out there.
To Jim, I can only tell you how proud I am and how much we appreciate. Jim talked about some of the uncertain times that we have gone through. I was very much involved in this watch, if you will, and the concern about the hands of The Greenbriar.
Now I'm so appreciative that Jim stepped in because I wasn't sure how the rest of the country would have looked at The Greenbriar being the finest state office buildings in the country. But if that's what it took, that's what we were going to do. This was not going to be closed. It's too much a treasure, and Jim has talked about that.
But it took somebody with a passion, and not only the passion, but the compassion enough to make it happen, to make sure that all the fine people that work here, the generations of West Virginians who have given their life, if you will, to The Greenbriar and into serving America. Greenbriar is America's resort, and it's not just a saying or it's not just a cliche. It really is America's resort, because most of America at one time or another has identified West Virginia with The Greenbriar. So wherever I go, it's something pretty special.
And on top of that, to have Tom Watson as our pro emeritus, basically our face of golfing, first of all, as Tom said he had large shoes to fill in Sam Snead, and I met Sam a few times and talked to him, and he was quite the character, as you know. Everybody has a Sam Snead story if they've ever met him. But with that, not only has Tom filled the shoes, but to be the quality of human being that Tom is not only speaks volumes to this establishment and to The Greenbriar and what he brings and that cooperation and that partnership that's been forged here. And Jim, we're extremely proud of that. And I continue to say that he gives me bragging rights.
Someone once said about the game of golf, I've spent most of my life golfing. The rest of the time was just wasted. And when you think about it, it's a passion for so many people. But it's also a time to bring families together, to bring business together, to bring relationships, and The Greenbriar does all that in fine fashion for families to be able to come.
For those who are watching this broadcast who have never been to West Virginia, there's some different sayings we have, I'm sure you're heard of Almost Heaven and John Denver's Country Roads. It's not more appropriate, and when you come here you'll see what we're talking about and what he was singing about. Wild and Wonderful is our preamble, and it basically tells about our state. It is wonderful, and it still has that wild beauty to it, and we're so fortunate and so blessed with that.
But really until Jim Justice stepped to the scene to bring back -- and Jim is the first owner The Greenbriar who is a native West Virginian, and I can't tell you what that means. All you have to do is talk to all the fine people here that make The Greenbriar what it is and look at the smile on their face and ask them how things are going, and I think, Ray and Tom, you know what I'm talking about, and we're all excited, too.
So we continue to move forward. I can't say enough about the PGA for having the wisdom to choose The Greenbriar, and we're so pleased with that. Charlie Zinc, a friend of mine who I know very well, Rick and all the good people, and to Mr. Finchem, Commissioner, I appreciate so much the wisdom that you all have had to choose The Greenbriar to basically partner up because I know it's going to be a great marriage. I think everybody that comes here is going to enjoy themselves. I believe the hospitality will be next to none. It's not just the beauty of this place, it's not just the history or tradition or heritage of this place, it's basically the people, and it's the people of West Virginia. And that's really what makes our state so special.
We're excited. The PGA TOUR has made a commitment. Jim Justice and The Greenbriar has made a commitment, and I'm telling you that the state of West Virginia is making a commitment. You'll never have a better place or a better partner, and I don't think you'll ever enjoy yourself more than when you come to wild and wonderful West Virginia and The Greenbriar. We're happy to have the PGA back. They've been here before, as Tom said, and to have them come back is even that much more special.
So we think it's going to be a long marriage, it's going to be one that we're going to be very proud of, and again, it's going to be one that we can invite all of our friends and have the rest of the world to watch what we really have here to offer. Our little state is in pretty good shape compared to most of my colleagues around the country. And most of the governors are working to keep afloat. We've been blessed. We still have a balanced budget. We have a little bit of a surplus, which we're willing to share with our good employees. We're moving forward. We're working in more of a prudent manner. We live within our means, the same as the good people of West Virginia, and we make sure we provide the opportunities.
I can't tell you what opportunity this provides for us to be able to showcase the state and the tourism and how we're going to grow, what it brings in not just monetary, but also opportunities.
Mr. Finchem and Tom, to you, spreading the good word and the fortunes about The Greenbriar, we appreciate it very much.
Jim, as a dear friend and someone I've known for a long time, I can only say thank you. You are a truly a West Virginian through and through. And for that, I want to make this presentation.
Jim, if you'd come forward, please, and Tom, if you could come up, also, on behalf of the PGA. This is a certificate of recognition whereas the PGA TOUR is bringing professional golf at its highest level to West Virginia and one of its truly great landmarks, The Greenbriar. And whereas our great state and the world renowned Greenbriar will be showcased through national and international media coverage. And whereas this PGA TOUR event will draw thousands of golfers, their staff members, Tour and television production staff, visitors and volunteers to The Greenbriar valley, resulting in a significant increase in tourism to the region and throughout the great state. Whereas in 2008 the PGA TOUR and its tournaments contributed $124 million to charities. And whereas the PGA TOUR consists of athletes of the highest quality and character, displaying honesty, integrity and sportsmanship, all characteristics exemplifying the true mountaineer spirit. And whereas the Greenbriar Classic's debut next year will add to the attractive venues that the PGA TOUR has to offer. Wherefore I, Joe Manchin, governor of the great state of West Virginia, do hereby bestow on the PGA TOUR and its members this certificate of recognition.
So on behalf of the great state and the people of this wonderful state, we present this to you and to Jim for what you do for West Virginia and what you continue to do.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. How's that for an exciting afternoon, everyone? We would now like to entertain some questions from the media here at The Greenbriar, and afterwards from those in attendance at the Bridgestone Invitational. So let's begin with the media here, and if anyone has a question I would like to ask that you please raise your hand so that we can get a microphone to you. That's so that the people in Akron as well as those listening on pgatour.com can hear your questions.
Q. Mr. Justice, this is for you. Just curious how many people you guys expect this to draw in for the tournament for the entire week?
JIM JUSTICE: Well, you know, Rick George and I have had a little sparring match going back and forth, and Rick is executive vice president, I think, is that correct, of operations at the PGA. Really, I know the commissioner wants to feel like he's running things and everything. Rick told me that he's really running everything.
But I honestly feel in my heart that this -- I'm so pleased that we're FedEx tier. We would have been maybe slightly disappointed to have a Champions or maybe a ladies' event or a Fall Series event -- not disappointed, that's improper to say. We would have been delighted. But I am absolutely committed to the fact that The Greenbriar only really needs to be one tier. And so if that tier is the top of the top, the FedEx series, that's where we need to be.
And with the follow-up right behind that, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, Rick is going to see and the PGA TOUR players are going to see an outpouring of West Virginians here within striking distance of this tournament, whether it be D.C. or Roanoke or Charlotte or wherever, but they're going to see an outpouring of people at this event like nobody's business. Honestly, my goal will be to strive for it to be the very best on the TOUR.
Q. I was just wondering if could you talk to us about the status of the purse, where that stands right now.
JIM JUSTICE: Okay. There's been so many things floating around in the media and everything, and the ironic thing about this whole thing is while everything is floating around the media and everybody is coming up with different things, the term, the Buick Open moving here and all the different stuff that's been happening over the last ten days, I'm sitting in the dark. It almost goes back to the little mushroom deal. I'm trying to figure out exactly what's going on and I'm waiting on the TOUR to give me the go-ahead and everything. Well, they did that on Monday.
The purse has been reported at $5.8. That's a complete error. The purse is going to be $6 million, which ranks right up there with the real big boys.
Q. Jim, what is the tournament going to be called, and is The Greenbriar the main sponsor?
JIM JUSTICE: Greenbriar is the title sponsor. The tournament is going to be called The Greenbriar Classic, and the title sponsor is going to be The Greenbriar.
Now, listen, you've had three straight shots at Jim. There's two other guys up here. (Laughter).
Q. This is for Governor Manchin and Tom Watson. I'm wondering, especially from you, Governor, is there anybody else in the state you think that could have gotten this done?
JOE MANCHIN: Not at all. Jim, the first time we talked about this, I think Jim dreams something at night and then the next day it becomes a reality. I can see his lovely family here, and I'm sure I'm not that far off, and it might come to fruition at the same time he dreams it --
JIM JUSTICE: Wait just one second. I've got to interrupt. The problem about that is he's right, but my dreams are usually about food, and the next day they become a reality. That's the problem.
JOE MANCHIN: Well, Jim said, and he was talking about -- I think they were asking about -- somebody asked about what type of crowd you expect. Only thing I can tell you is tell us what the biggest crowd has ever been, and Jim will expect to break it. That's the type of tournament he's going to have.
And where we as a state and all of us, we all benefit but we all must be a partner in this. We'll work with The Greenbriar very closely on this, but this is a Greenbriar event, and any way that we can support that, we will do that. But I knew when I first heard about it, I knew it would happen, but I didn't know it would happen this quick. I knew it would be a FedEx or it wouldn't be anything at all. Knowing Jim, he can go for the top.
I think Tom has known Jim long enough and well enough that he can reiterate on what he thinks about this, but I just am so pleased and it happened much quicker than I thought it would.
TOM WATSON: I think the tournament will be a success because The Greenbriar is going to make it a success. The players always like to go to new golf tournaments. They like the newness of the golf courses, the newness of the environments. They will understand very quickly how -- first of all, the warmth of the area, as I've mentioned before, the warmth of the people there. They'll understand that.
But the amenities here at The Greenbriar -- we are spoiled. We are professional golfers, we are spoiled. This place will spoil you even worse. We've got 50 amenities here of different -- all kinds of different things, falconry, off-road racing, they've got shooting, they've got fishing, they've got bowling late at night, I've been there with my family. There's just a variety of things to do. And I fully expect that the players will bring their families here and fully enjoy the place and come back year after year.
Q. Tom, will your schedule allow you to play like as the host of this?
TOM WATSON: Well, unfortunately next year the tournament date is the same day as the U.S. Senior Open, so I've got kind of a Sophie's Choice issue here. Right now I'm not going to make a decision on that.
Q. Governor, can you talk a little bit about the economic impact that this is going to have?
JOE MANCHIN: If you look at the different venues that we've had in our state and the residual effects that it has and how far out it reaches, I don't know that we've ever seen anything to this extent that's probably going to have the far-reaching effects that I think it's going to have and for a time period as long as this. Usually events are maybe a one day, maybe a two day or a weekend event, this will be more than a week. It really leads up to and it really has after-effects, also. So I really can't tell you, but I think it will be probably greater than anything we've experienced in the state of West Virginia at the highest level with the maximum exposure worldwide. It's up to us to make sure that we do everything we can to maximize our exposure on that and what we can gain from this. I think it's going to be invaluable. To put a dollar figure, I couldn't do it. I know it's going to be up in the many, many millions of dollars. To how many people it's going to be a livelihood to expand on their businesses. I know that Jim will fill up every room he has, and then there will be every other room they can get their hands on in the area will be filled up, also.
Q. Tom and Governor, you talked about bringing players for the first time to new areas. You know the No. 1 player in the world. How hard do you work to get Tiger Woods to show up here?
TOM WATSON: Well, there is the executive -- what's your -- being a professional golfer, one of the beautiful things about our TOUR is it has so many opportunities to play, but the real fact is you don't play them all. The issue is right now, and it has been ever since Tiger came on the scene -- I remember having a meeting with Tim Finchem about my future on the Champions Tour, the Seniors Tour, now the Champions Tour, and I asked him the question, what type of negative effects will Tiger possibly have on the TOUR, and he said, he will have the negative effect, if he becomes the star that we think he is, that if the tournaments don't get Tiger are going to be -- they're going to suffer from it.
I think to a certain extent you've seen that. The TOUR tries very hard to make that not happen, but still, the premier player in the world is -- anywhere he goes, it's an event. And I know that the TOUR and The Greenbriar will try very hard to get him here.
With his young family starting to grow, this is going to be a pretty special place. It could be a great attraction. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't play here.
JOE MANCHIN: I was going to turn it over to Jim because he probably has as much, if not more input in Tiger being here. Basically the only thing I can do is I'll hand-deliver the invitation, if need be, and we'll make sure he understands how welcome he's going to be. But I think Tom said it best. I think his family would love it, giving them a great venue to come to. It's something new. I don't think he's played at The Greenbriar before with past tournaments we've had here, so it would be a new venue for him, also.
So Jim, it's up to you. Maybe 6 might have to go up a little bit, what do you think?
JIM JUSTICE: Well, it's really pretty easy for me because Rick George told me, he said, Tiger has already said he's coming. I mean, you know, I've got to go by his word.
No, really and truly, I hope Tiger and Phil and everybody in the world can hear me and say this, that this is a really special place. This is a special place and this is the time of year really and truly that (inaudible) will think they're in Disney World, Disney World times ten. We surely want Tiger to come, we want Phil, we want all the great players, and we'll just work really, really hard to make that happen and everything. But I really don't think we've got to do a lot of work because Rick has already told me.
THE MODERATOR: We will now take questions from the media center of the Bridgestone Invitational, so I'll turn things over to Laura Hill.
LAURA NEAL: You can ask questions of Tim or back towards The Greenbriar. If anyone has any questions, just raise your hand, please.
We're good from here, guys.
Q. Commissioner, I was wondering if you could talk about the competition for this spot what kind of competition it was and how the process went about.
TIM FINCHEM: Well, what we've been saying for the last year and a half, we knew going into this downturn we were going to have some turnover in our schedule, and we've been working on creating options for different parts of the season. As our conversations with Jim Justice progressed, we got more and more excited about this opportunity. It seemed like clearly the best option for this period of our FedEx series season in the middle of the summer.
As we concluded conversations with Buick as it related to the Buick Open, we had not concluded conversations with Buick about other aspects of our relationship, but we were delighted to be able to move quickly and make sure we didn't have a vacuum. We thought it was important for our fans, for our television partners, and for our overall momentum in a down economy to move quickly. And because of Jim's commitment, we were able to do that. And I think it's going to be very helpful to us going forward.
Q. The date was announced for '10. Will The Greenbriar Classic always be in or about that part of the FedEx Cup schedule?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, they can play any time from early to mid June to late September. Solheim Cup was well in the fall and gorgeous up there, but we think of it as a mid-summer period. But our out year dates post-'10 are something that we'll continue to review. I wouldn't say it will necessarily be this particular week, but certainly our objective would be to keep them in that period of the schedule during the mid-summer. I think that would be ideal for the golf course.
Q. Will they be part of that flex dates things that you've been talking about?
TIM FINCHEM: Could be. Yeah, we are really focused on more of a flex schedule to be able to allow tournaments that do a great job to get in front of players who play certain weeks and don't play other weeks just because of the way they've developed their overall schedule. We're getting a good reaction to that approach from players and from our current sponsors.
As a consequence, we're putting more energy in to try and figure out how it might work. Probably not across the board until '13, but maybe sooner. But we're spending a lot of time on it.
Q. Did you announce the length of this contract with The Greenbriar?
TIM FINCHEM: Six years, through '15.
Q. And lastly, were any of the events, say, in the Fall Series or opposites, were they offered any type of a move to the FedExCup schedule?
TIM FINCHEM: Not in this immediate period, but as we created the Fall Series a couple years ago, we talked to every fall event, and we have a very good sense of what their interests are and what their capabilities are since this is a much higher price point.
Q. How soon after Jim purchased The Greenbriar did you begin talking to him about a potential PGA TOUR event?
TIM FINCHEM: I can't recall the initial date. My wife was reading me the story in the paper a few months back about the acquisition by Jim because she knows I've always been fond of The Greenbriar. But you know, our preliminary discussions started some weeks back, probably maybe as far as six weeks back. I don't think we ever finalized anything until about two hours ago. But it's been a very positive development on both sides to work toward reaching a point where we both felt comfortable that we could -- and I would say the governor talked a lot about this, I think this is another reaffirmation of sponsor value, the quality of being able to reach our audience domestically and internationally, the importance to communities about the charitable impact and the economic impact, and it's a nice continuation of a series of announcements we made this year for long-term extensions which make us feel increasingly better about the prospects of working through this downturn, although we had a lot of hurdles.
Q. You talked about how it was important to move quickly to get this in place for Michigan. How quickly do you feel you will be filling the vacuum that's going to be left in San Diego with Torrey Pines?
TIM FINCHEM: As I said, we're still talking to Buick. The contractual relationships that Buick had were set aside by the bankruptcy proceedings, so there isn't a contractual commitment. But we will continue to talk to Buick as we talk to other potential possibilities. Obviously that's a very strong tournament, great history. We don't anticipate a significant problem of sponsoring it, but we want the right sponsor. After 50 years we'd like to figure out a way to continue with Buick if at all possible down the road.
And in Michigan, while the Buick Open in its current configuration is coming to an end, we'd like to continue a tournament in Michigan. Michigan is a great fan base for us, and we looked at alternatives in Michigan, continue to look at alternatives in Michigan, but the alternatives that we know about are going to take more work. They're not definite by any means, and we just felt we needed to give a new tournament as much time as possible to prepare, and this was a terrific opportunity. So we'll continue to look at Michigan and we'll be working on a solution for San Diego, as well, and keep having conversations with Buick and we'll see what develops there.
Q. I'd just be curious on the topic of Canada being stuck in their date, did they ever express any interest in filling for next year that time spot so that they wouldn't be right after the Open?
TIM FINCHEM: No, I think -- I was up there last week and spent some time with Gordon Nixon, the CEO of RBC. We have talked to RBC about the future a number of times, but their major focus right now is to get the Canadian Open repositioned. They've spent a lot of time and energy with the RCGA on their golf course the next five or six years, which we're delighted with. We think that's very positive. They're staging their outreach to players. They have a nice player improvement their player field this year, and we'll see what develops.
But if you're playing the week after the British Open, you're obviously a candidate for the positives that would come out of a flex scheduling system, so that'd be another example of a tournament that might be assisted by that kind of approach.
Q. Is there a price break when you go the week after the Open or the week before?
TIM FINCHEM: There is some differentiation in cost from a television standpoint. It still is not huge, but there is some differentiation, yeah.
Q. And tournaments, if they were to do this flex schedule thing, for the years that they went into that spot, they'd get that same price differential?
TIM FINCHEM: I wouldn't swear to that. That would be a function probably arising out of our television negotiations in the next -- I'm not so sure that the differentiation still exists by the time we get there, so I wouldn't want to publicly say that it would if I don't know for sure. But it's possible.
Q. I was just curious, the two Buicks each had a year left. Did the bankruptcy void the contracts, or do you guys wait for your pennies on the dollar on the settlement? How does that work?
TIM FINCHEM: They set aside -- the contracts were extinguished during the bankruptcy proceeding. Of course they come out of bankruptcy, they can do whatever they want. But they are also very much in a movement of downsizing and reducing of budgets, and they had to make some decisions. And in fairness to the time to get a new tournament ready, they went ahead and made a call on the Buick Open. Although we were talking to them right up until very recently about that because it's interrelated with some other arrangements we have with Buick.
But we determined to move ahead today, and it then allows us with Buick to focus our attention on these remaining issues we have and see if we can bring those to a head the next two or three months.
Q. So is there a buyout, per se, to get out of those?
TIM FINCHEM: No, the bankruptcy, once the contract is extinguished, you can call and ask, it would be a good conversation, but nothing would come of it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, commissioner, and thank you, Laura. Thank you all for joining us today, and a special thank you to the three distinguished gentlemen that have joined us here at The Greenbriar today. This concludes our press conference. However, we do have some time for our one-on-one interviews for those people here at The Greenbriar with our speakers.
End of FastScripts