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Village Vision News

Village commits to multi-year sponsorship of Decatur-Forsyth Classic golf tourney

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The tournament is the longest running stop on the Symetra Tour

Cindy Deadrick-Wolfer is the tournament director of the Decatur-Forsyth Classic, which has been known by a few other names over three decades but has always been held at Hickory Point Golf Course.

Deadrick-Wolfer came to visit the board early, she said, because the tournament does not yet have a signed contract for next year with the Symetra Tour.

“We’ve been host city for 30 years,” Deadrick-Wolfer told board members at the Aug. 18 meeting. “It would be sad if we weren’t (anymore).”

Thirty years of hosting the tournament makes Decatur the longest running stop on the Symetra Tour, which bills itself as “The Road to the LPGA.” Deadrick-Wolfer was looking to the board for a commitment of $75,000 for each of the next three years.

The previous sponsorship agreement was for $50,000 per year from the village. Deadrick-Wolfer said the extra money and the three-year commitment are needed to be competitive with other communities courting the tour and to boost the purse as quickly as possible to $125,000.

“I know we’re asking a lot of you, and I appreciate that,” Deadrick-Wolfer told the board. “But, I believe in all my heart that this is a good use of the hotel/ motel tax.”

There were many supporters on hand wishing to speak out in favor of the village’s continued sponsorship, including a former mayor.

Former long-time mayor Hap Gilbert said he liked the cooperative nature the tournament fosters between Forsyth and Decatur and that he supports the event. He said it carries a kind of status symbol for the community.

Two gentlemen in the hotel business spoke up urging board members to support the event.

Sam Osborne, the newly named general manager of the Residence Inn by Marriott that is still under construction in the village, introduced himself to the board. He talked about how much the tournament has meant to him and his family all these years and the long-time friendships developed over that time period.

“It wouldn’t seem right driving down Weaver Road and not seeing that event,” Developer Steve Horve, owner of Homewood Suites in Forsyth, said of the tournament. “I think it’s a great event for our community.”

Trustee Larry Reed told his colleagues on the board that if the two biggest contributors to the hotel/motel tax were for the measure, then “that should direct us.”

Sid Audiffred of Forsyth was the only dissenting voice to come to the podium during the public comment portion of the meeting. He made it clear that he didn’t believe the village should continue to sponsor the event and noted that he thought the crowds were small at this year’s tournament making for a bad overall investment. He was also not pleased that the request called for a 50-percent increase.

But, for anyone viewing the village’s investment of hotel/motel tax funds as an investment that should pay off in immediate profits, Trustee Steve Hubbard shared another perspective.

“The hotel/motel tax is not something you get back dollar for dollar,” Hubbard said. “It’s not that kind of investment, and it’s ridiculous to think of it that way.”

Teri Hammel, executive director of the Decatur Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that judging the event by simply observing the crowd wasn’t enough.

She said you have to consider the length of time and think of “over 30 years of visitors coming to town making an economic impact in restaurants, hotels and the mall,” Hammel said, adding that “it may not look like it, but it brings in a lot of money,” when you’re talking about three decades of visitors.

Using the LPGA’s own formula, the tournament has a “$500,000 economic impact” on the community, Deadrick-Wolfer said.

Hammel added that having a tournament affiliated with the LPGA coming back year after year offers credibility when attracting other events.

All around the room, trustees offered their shared opinions that supporting the tournament was the appropriate use of hotel/motel tax revenue.

Trustee Dave Wendt said exactly that, noting that the tournament “brings people to the community to see what we’re about.”

Trustees Bob Rasho and Kerstin Trachtenberg agreed that long-term, sponsorship should probably come from corporate sponsors.

Wendt made the motion, which was seconded by Trustee Bob Gruenewald. The three-year sponsorship and the increase to $75,000 for each of the three years passed with all trustees voting Yea.

Several trustees ended their part of the discussion by asking that there be extra efforts made to highlight local businesses in the tournament’s advertising.

Deadrick-Wolfer had the last word with a simple but genuine sentiment: “Thank you very much.”

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