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Sponsorship woes sink Nashville tourney

1/7/2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nashville will not host an LPGA
tournament event for the first time since 1987 after organizers
failed to raise enough money from sponsors.

Raycom Sports canceled the Aerus Electrolux USA Championship,
hosted by country singers Vince Gill and Amy Grant, organizers
said.

''We needed between $1.5 million and $1.8 million to run the
tournament, and we came up $1 million short,'' tournament director
Steve Nieman said.

The event would have likely filled the "TBA" void currently on the LPGA schedule May 15-18.

Only one professional tour event remains in Nashville, the
Champions Tour tournament at Springhouse Golf Club May 25 through
June 1.

The LPGA event had been the area's longest-running professional
golf tournament.

Nieman said Raycom had been trying to land a title sponsor for
four months with a California-based investment company, but that
group twice failed to meet deadlines for the money.

The tournament ran for 12 years as the Sara Lee Classic and had
been held at Hermitage Golf Course. It moved to Franklin's Legends
Club of Tennessee three years ago when Sara Lee dropped its title
sponsorship.

Electrolux notified tournament officials after last year's event
that it would not renew its sponsorship.

''Nashville is losing a gem, but putting a Band-Aid on it for a
year wasn't a good business decision,'' Nieman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.