PGA lines up more local sponsors for CCV event

From left: Tom Chewning, Tom Farrell, Tim Finchum, Bobby Wadkins, Curtis Strange and Robert Wrenn.

From left: Tom Chewning, Tom Farrell, Tim Finchum, Bobby Wadkins, Curtis Strange and Robert Wrenn announce the event at a press conference last year.

The PGA Tour’s return to Richmond has caught the eye of another wave of sponsors.

The Riverstone Group, part of well-known local businessman Bill Goodwin’s CCA Industries, along with TowneBank, have signed on to sponsor the Dominion Charity Classic, a tournament on the PGA’s Champions Tour that will be held at Country Club of Virginia later this year.

TowneBank and Riverstone paid to grab the second-two-highest sponsorship levels after Dominion Resources’ deal last year for naming rights over the whole event.

The deals with TowneBank and Riverstone include two-year commitments from the companies. Financial terms of the sponsorships were not disclosed.

The tournament will be held at CCV's James River Course for at least the next four years.

The tournament will be held at CCV’s James River Course for at least the next four years.

Steve Schoenfeld, who is leading the PGA’s effort on the ground locally as executive director of the Richmond tournament, said more than 50 companies, about 90 percent of which are local, have committed to sponsor the event at some level. He said the event is three-quarters of the way toward its overall sponsorship goal and still has five months to before the tournament tees off. That’s the fastest start for sponsorship deals he’s seen on any tournament he’s overseen.

“The reception we’ve gotten from the Richmond business community has been fantastic,” Schoenfeld said. “Clearly the market is excited for us. There hasn’t been men’s pro golf in the market for 25 years.”

The tournament will be the first Champions Tour event to be held in Richmond since 1990, when the tour was still the Senior PGA and the Crestar Classic was played at Hermitage with a purse of $350,000.

This year’s event at CCV’s James River Course will be a three-day, 54-hole Champions Tour play-off tournament at CCV’s James River Course with a $2 million purse. The Champions Tour was formerly the Senior PGA Tour and features pros over the age of 50. Its current big names include Fred Couples, Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie.

In snagging Riverstone and TowneBank, the event found companies that are both familiar with golf. Riverstone, in addition to the Jefferson Hotel, owns Keswick Hall and Golf Club near Charlottesville, and Kiawah Island Golf Resort and The Sea Pines Resort in South Carolina.

TowneBank, a Hampton Roads-based bank that entered the Richmond market in 2015 and is close to opening its local headquarters downtown, has previously sponsored the LPGA event at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, according to CEO Bob Aston.

“I think it will be a good deal for Richmond, a lot of fun, and we wanted to be a part of it,” Aston said.

A message left for Riverstone director Matthew Goodwin was not returned by press time.

Money from sponsorships, ticket sales and vendor revenue will pay to put on the event and for the purse. Individual tickets go on sale next week.

Net proceeds from the event will be distributed to Virginia Values Veterans, or V3, a state program designed to assist veterans in their transition from military service to civilian careers.

Other national sponsors will be brought to the table in the coming months for rights to items like the official beer sponsor or soft drink sponsor.

The tournament’s organizers have also had a good response from Richmonders looking to volunteer to work the tournament.

They had nearly 1,100 volunteers sign up within five weeks of making the initial call for volunteers. And that’s despite the lack of pay and the fact that volunteers actually pay $80 to volunteer. That fee helps cover the costs of their uniforms, food, beverage and transportation.

“It’s unprecedented,” PGA spokeswoman Laura Neal said of Richmonders clamoring to work the event.

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