Pensacola too small for major events


In the daily newspaper’s article on Jimmy Lee ending his relationship with The Boeing Championship, [formerly Blue Angel Classic, formerly Emerald Coast Classic, formerly Pensacola Open, formerly Monsanto Open], Lee bemoans that Pensacola would never support his event.

(Jimmy)Lee never could get the Pensacola area to fully embrace the tournament. Even among people with an interest in golf, it was a tough sell.

It’s just a tough market, period,’ he said.

In retrospect, Lee wishes he would have moved the tournament from The Moors to The Raven years ago. He realizes the event is an easier sell in the Destin-Sandestin-Panama City market

Jimmy Lee is right. Our major industry is government – local, state and federal. Gulf Power Co. is a public utility with a regional customer base and can’t justify $1 million dollar sponsorship. Our hospitals need to focus on health care. Gannett who owns the News Journal/Bella/Home & Garden/Pelican/Pens. Business Journal will write about events and trade ads for sponsorship – but offers little or no cash.

That leaves International Paper, Solutia and GE – none will step up beyond contributing to United Way. They are all one trade agreement away from outsourcing to some Third World country.

No, Pensacola can’t compete for major events with Mobile, New Orleans, Birmingham or even Montgomery.
We may not even be able to compete with Destin/Sandestin, Orange Beach or Biloxi any more.

As I’ve so often written, Pensacola is the hole in the Southeast’s economic donut….and the hole is getting bigger. Yes, there are some bright spots – like the Community Maritime Park and the rise of UWF.

However, we’ve got too many people in positions of authority and wealth who treat this area as their personal fatted calf ready for slaughter ….with very little concern about future generations. What’s sad is many of those leaders believe what’s best for them personally is really what’s best for the community.
There are selfless leaders out there, and it’s time they step up more. Or we will find ourselves competing for horseshoe championships with Oop, Ala. or new tattoo shops with Lucedale, Miss.