Connecticut has always longed for their own major league franchise to cheer for.
Fans were crushed when the National Hockey League’s Hartford Whalers left town following the 1996-97 season to chase additional revenue in North Carolina.
When the North American Soccer League was a major league organization with Brazilian legend Pele on the field for the New York Cosmos, there was the Hartford Bicentennials playing at Dillon Stadium in Hartford for three seasons (1975-77).
They were disappointed when the New England Blizzard women’s basketball team that drew more than 11,000 fans on multiple occasions to the Hartford Civic Center faded away when the American Basketball League folded a few days before Christmas in 1998 in the middle of their third season.
Connecticut grabbed another major league franchise in 2003 when the Mohegan Tribal Nation bought Orlando’s WNBA franchise and rechristened them as the Connecticut Sun. In the last 18 years, the Sun have won two Eastern Conference championships and played in three WNBA finals.
Then, there is the old friend that we sometimes take for granted – the PGA’s Travelers Championship golf tournament. The tournament dates back to 1952 at the old Wethersfield Country Club when it was known as the Insurance City Open.
The tournament has been bringing the best players in the world to Connecticut for more than 70 years. Now, the tournament is played at the Tournament Players Club at River Highlands in Cromwell. Eight of the top 10 players in the world were in Cromwell for the tournament, which was won by Dustin Johnson, who finished the year as the No. 1 ranked player in the world.
It’s a major league event with major league talent coming to play here. And it is not going only anywhere any time soon.
Travelers and the PGA Tour announced on Monday that they have reached an agreement with Travelers to extend their title sponsorship through 2030.
When the deal is complete, Travelers will be the longest-running title sponsor in the tournament’s history. Canon was a title sponsor for 17 years from 1985 through 2002.
“The Travelers Championship has established itself as a premier PGA Tour event, thanks to the inspirational leadership provided by Travelers, the dedication of thousands of volunteers and the passionate fans who watch or attend every year,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.
The tournament has been recognized with 15 “Best Of” awards from the PGA Tour over the past several years, including Tournament of the Year in 2017, Players Choice in 2017 and 2018, and Most Fan Friendly Event in 2010, 2012 and 2017.
This year’s Travelers Championship will be June 21-27 and the tournament already has the commitment of several top players including Johnson, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the world. Three-time tournament champion Bubba Watson will be making his 15th appearance in the tournament in June along with 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed and U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau.
“This event has all of the right ingredients,” Monahan said. “There is a wonderful facility at TPC River Highlands that attracts so many starts and a fan contingent that is really second to none in terms of size and enthusiasm every year. There is nothing like being in the bowl on (the) 18th (green) on Sunday.”
“Our rational is pretty simple.” said Alan Schnitzer, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Travelers. “Over the years this tournament has delivered some amazing moments from Jordan Spieth’s bunker shot to win in a playoff in 2017, Jim Furyk’s historic (course record low) 58 and comeback (wins) from Bubba Watson.
“But it is what happens off the course that keeps us coming back with all the proceeds going to charity the tournament has become an important platform for fundraising,” Schnitzer said.
Since Travelers began sponsoring the tournament in 2007, more than $20 million has been raised and donated to more than 800 worthy organizations in Connecticut. All tournament proceeds go to charity and the funds raised each year have increased substantially, from $650,000 in 2007 to $2.1 million in 2019.
The 2020 Travelers Championship, held as a TV-only event due to COVID-19 restrictions, generated more than $1.6 million.
With Travelers as title sponsor, many significant enhancements have been made at TPC River Highlands, including the addition of a 23-acre practice facility, a multimillion-dollar course improvement project and a 40,000-square-foot clubhouse, which opened prior to the 2019 Travelers Championship. The tournament purse has also increased by $200,000 annually for six straight years, reaching $7.4 million in 2020.
Connecticut’s biggest sporting event isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We’re proud to announce that we have extended our title sponsorship of the @TravelersChamp with the @PGATOUR through 2030! https://t.co/UIcT2KfDz5 pic.twitter.com/aN6thqefRq
— Travelers (@Travelers) March 29, 2021