Monday, March 7, 2011

Springfield's LPGA Classic faces search for new sponsor

Springfield’s status as a stop on the LPGA Tour could be uncertain at best when the State Farm Classic comes to a close June 12 at Panther Creek Country Club.

Everyone involved acknowledges the difficulty of finding a new sponsor — or network of sponsors — to fill a seven-figure monetary void. Bloomington-based State Farm Insurance will end its 19-year role as title sponsor of the women’s golf event, which began at The Rail Golf Club in 1976.

Dyanne Ferk, associate dean of the business college at the University of Illinois Springfield, agreed that companies are being much more cautious in committing to sponsorships. Part of it, Ferk said, is the evolution of many businesses from regional to national to global.

“Businesses look at every penny going out and want to know the return on their investment,” Ferk said. “Also, as they become more national and global in their perspectives, there’s more competition for a limited pot of money for advertising, philanthropy and nonprofit things.

“In a small market like Springfield, we don’t always fare as well. It’s tough, especially with this economy. The fact is, sometimes it’s tougher to justify a sports event.”

Ferk's comments were featured in a March 6, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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