Ron Sirak reports in GolfWeek that the LPGA’s Corning Classic will end its run of 31 years. Sirak says that it’s a casualty of the current state of the economy, and a severe downturn for the Corning Glass company.
That wouldn’t be at all surprising, but a comment from Gail Graham, president of the Tournament Owners Association makes me wonder if that’s all there is to the story:
“This is a sad, sad day. Corning has been such a staunch supporter of the LPGA. This loss is disappointing but understandable. Perhaps the tour has outgrown Corning, which is sad. As a player, I know how much fun it was to go there. When you have an event whose attendance for the week surpasses the population of the town, that is a cool thing.”
And then there’s this paragraph:
About a dozen tournaments are negotiating contracts for 2010 under pressure from the LPGA to pay more for sanctioning fees and television production costs, additional expenditures that could reach upward of $250,000 per event. The LPGA has already indicated it will back down on its plan to increase the scoreboard costs for tournaments, but the tour likely does not have a deep enough cash reserve to defray the other expenses.
From those comments, it’s not clear to me whether the small tournament truly had to quit because of economic conditions, or whether the LPGA decided that a tournament stop in a town of 10,000 just wasn’t worth the time. LPGA Commissioner said all the right things about the Corning Classic, but I really wonder …