Fort Mill Times

Contracts to bring pro golf tourney to Tega Cay in limbo

Will a professional golf tournament find a home in Tega Cay?

For now, a move to bring an LPGA event to the city known for its golf courses is in limbo.

“We are still in a holding pattern,” City Manager Grant Duffield said of a proposed five-year endeavor.

And there's a problem with the 72-hole tourney's originally scheduled dates, he said.

“The originally (scheduled) Oct. 16 dates have been scrubbed because of conflicts with a NASCAR event in Charlotte,” Duffield said during last week's Tega Cay City Council meeting.

The tourney could be rescheduled for late summer or early fall 2010, he said.

“I don't have the dates for anyone at this point,” Duffield said. “I'm not sure when those dates will be forth coming.”

At this point, however, determining the dates could be the least concern.

Next step

The next step toward bringing renowned female golfers to Tega Cay hinges on the ability of sports promoter Special Events Unlimited, known as SEU, to finalize an agreement with the professional golf association.

“The key is, can SEU sign a contract with LPGA?” Tega Cay Councilman John Dervay asked. “In order to do that, SEU has to have a tournament sponsor. Unless that happens, there's nothing for us to do.”

Or more to the point, Dervay said, Tega Cay can forget about landing a professional golf tourney.

Actually, making it happen is contingent upon three contracts being signed, Duffield said. One of the proposed contracts addresses the lease of the golf course facility between SEU and Pinnacle Golf, which runs the course for the city. Another contract between SEU and the City of Tega Cay outlines the responsibilities of SEU relative to using city facilities, he said.

“At this point, we haven't seen any contracts,” Duffield said. “We're waiting for SEU to present those. Once they're presented, council will need to review them in open session.”

With the council's approving nod, the move to bring professional golf to Tega Cay advances, he said.

“Then we begin working in earnest with SEU and the LPGA,” he said.

But until then, everything remains at a stand still.

Revenue generator

The endeavor, which calls for a five-year contract, is estimated to generate in access of half a million dollars in revenue for the city and surrounding area.

“It's a fantastic move,” Mayor Bob Runde said of the women's pro golf tour, now televised in 25 countries. “It basically will improve the economy for Tega Cay and York County.”

SEU is working to acquire a title sponsor to up $3 million. Organizers also must line up a $1 million sponsor and a $500,000 sponsor. To date, none of those sponsors are in place.

“They are negotiating with four corporations,” Runde said.

None were named.

Should the deal come to fruition, residual income will be a byproduct, city leaders contend.

“After the tournament is over, golfers will want to come and play that course that they saw on TV,” Runde said. “That will improve revenues at the [Tega Cay] clubhouse. It will put Tega Cay and York County on the map.”

The venture also yields at least two other advantages, Runde said.

“It also will improve home value,” he said. “In addition, it will provide up to $250,000 to local nonprofit organizations that volunteer every year for five years.”

But the unsigned contracts loom large.

“Without those contracts, there will be no tournament,” Runde said.

Officials are set to review requests that SEU or Special Events Unlimited will make to Tega Cay Golf and Conference Center and the City of Tega Cay. For now, a preliminary “draft” contract that addresses the lease of the golf course facility between SEU and Tega Cay's Pinnacle sits in front of the city's attorney, Duffield said.

“It's very preliminary,” Duffield said of the rough document.

Duffield remains hopeful that the city's attorney will brief Tega Cay leaders about the draft at the November Council meeting. That meeting is slated for Nov. 16.

For now, a city pauses.

“We wait for SEU's ability to finalize a title sponsor and input from the public concerning the potential tourney,” Duffield said.