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PGA Tour's PODS event in jeopardy beyond '08

11/26/2007 - Golf

Less than a year after signing on as title sponsor of the PGA Tour event near Tampa, PODS Inc., is considering asking out of its deal, putting the future of the tournament in question beyond 2008.

PODS officials asked the PGA Tour for an extension until the end of December on its decision to renew sponsorship of the PODS Championship beyond 2008 -- although PODS franchisees were originally told that the deal would not be extended beyond the March 6-9 event at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Complicating the situation is the fact that the Clearwater, Fla.-based company is in the process of being sold, according to a PODS franchisee who did not wish to be identified.

Mark Calcavecchia won the 2007 event, which from 2003-2006 was called the Chrysler Championship and played in the fall.

The portable storage unit company signed a six-year agreement in January to sponsor the PODS Championship through 2012. But the company had an option to withdraw after two years.

"That date for them to extend the deal passed and they did ask for an extension,'' said tournament director Gerald Goodman. "They were a savior for our tournament and we hope they renew. They're a local company and they helped us bridge the gap and came on just six weeks before our event.

"But if they don't come back, we think that Tampa is a strong market and we are hopeful that we can find somebody else.''

The tournament was one of the big winners when the PGA Tour announced its new FedEx Cup schedule, which began this year. When the Players Championship moved to May, it created an opening on the Florida Swing; the PODS event moved from its former fall date.

But the tournament has had sponsorship issues. Started in 2000 as an opposite event to the World Golf Championships, the tournament first had Buick as a title sponsor before that car company gave way to Chrysler. After four years, Chrysler bowed out, leaving the tournament scrambling until securing PODS just weeks before the 2007 tournament.

Most tournaments on the PGA Tour have sponsorship arrangements that coincide with the network television contracts, which run through 2012. PODS is contracted to sponsor the 2008 tournament, which will go on as scheduled.

"All of the things that we feel good about with respect to the tournament -- the Tampa market generally and the golf course specifically, all of those things are positives for the event,'' said PGA Tour executive Ty Votaw. "We felt that way about the market and the tournament before PODS became a sponsor.''

Bob Harig is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.