Principal is reviewing its sponsorship of tournament 2009: Principal Charity

Principal is reviewing its sponsorship of tournament

The Principal Charity Classic will return to Glen Oaks Country Club in 2010, but the Champions Tour event has an uncertain future beyond that.

"We're really positive about the tournament,'' said Mary O'Keefe, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Principal Financial Group. "It's been great for the community, great for the charities. But we are going to have to take a hard look. We haven't made a decision.'' The current agreement between the PGA Tour and Principal expires after the 2010 event. Mike Stevens, president of the Champions Tour, is hopeful that Principal extends its current deal. But the current recession has put future plans in question, and the state of the economy will play a role in Principal's future in golf. Principal has laid off more than 650 employees since December, and pay for current employees has been cut 2 to 20 percent. "We think this is a great event,'' O'Keefe said. "It is a tough time.'' O'Keefe and Stevens met on Thursday to discuss the future. Stevens wouldn't disclose a deadline for Principal's decision, citing contract confidentiality. "But there is a time frame within the contract that we live within as far as them exercising their rights for 2011,'' Stevens said. "We're in the window of that starting (today).'' O'Keefe said she's asked Stevens for some time in the decision-making process. "We want to start looking at 2011, and give everybody plenty of time to look at it,'' O'Keefe said. "I asked Mike Stevens to be a little flexible because we've got to see how stable this economy is. We've been seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel. It's going to be a thorough review.'' One of Principal's chief reasons for getting into the golf business in 2007 was to generate charity dollars through community involvement. Principal wants to review the community's desire to keep the event going. The tournament has raised $1.2 million for five designated charities over the past two years. "I think we're going to be OK this year,'' O'Keefe said of this year's charity dollars. "Not fabulous. But if you look at other tournaments, we'll be right up there.''

Stevens is optimistic that something can be worked out with Principal. "We acquire a lot of data as to what we impact and who we impact,'' Stevens said. "It's incumbent upon us to pull all that data together and present it to the senior management at Principal so we can demonstrate that they are getting true value in and exceeding their investment. We'll be working on that in the next few weeks and then present it to them. I think it will be good.''

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