Sponsorship woes sink Nashville tourney

Updated: January 7, 2003, 11:55 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

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.

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