Tampa, FL -- The Gasparilla Day Parade, the PGA tour stop at Innisbrook and the annual Champions Tour Golf Tournament in Lutz; all three events have been left without a title sponsor.

For the Gasparilla Pirate Fest and Parade, it's the first time organizers have not been able to find a title sponsor in more than 15 years.

Tampa-based Outback has decided not to be the main sponsor for the long-time celebrity Champions Tournament, forcing the event to be canceled this year while title sponsor Transitions has decided not to renew its support for the local PGA stop.

Are the moves prompted by a lagging economy, or is the region's corporate base simply too small to support all these and other annual events?

"I think the community is feeling a little bit of the downturn in terms of corporations sponsoring events such as Gasparilla or the golf tournament. I think it's a short term phenomenon and it will work itself out over there," Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik told 10 News this week.

The head of EventFest, the company putting on the Day Parade, agrees with Vinik, adding the uncertainty surrounding things like taxes haven't helped either.

"It puts a lot of indecision in companies when they're trying to make marketing decisions and decisions in what they want to invest in. Unfortunately that confusion in Washington has hurt us as well- especially this year," said EventFest President Darrell Stefany.

But Stefany says the Day Parade is also proof the title sponsor doesn't have to be based in the event's backyard.

"It doesn't have to be a company that's based here. It certainly would make sense for it to be a company that does business here and obviously Southwest Airlines signed on to us when they first launched service into the Tampa Bay area."

"I think here in Tampa Bay it's definitely a big enough market."

The CEO and President of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce believes companies are also wanting to see a greater return on their investment. Bob Rohrlack says that's causing a bit of sponsorship shuffling. Rohrlack says that is forcing those seeking sponsorships to rethink their approach.

"As the economy was really going down and things were tough, it became harder. So instead of having one presenting sponsor at a higher dollar amount, you might get into several sponsors at smaller amounts and spread that out," he said.

"I think in some cases we've been our own worst enemy as an industry where we are happy to get the check but we don't always deliver on the sponsorship benefits as well as we should. I think the companies that do a good job with that will continue to receive support because the job is being done well," added Stefany.

Next year Stefany says he hopes they will once again have a title sponsor for the Day Parade.

The Children's Parade, which is this Saturday, is also an example of giving two companies top billing to put an event on. The official title of this year's event is the McDonald's Children's Gasparilla Extravaganza presented by Chevrolet.

The Day Parade is scheduled for Saturday January 26.

Read or Share this story: