DALLAS – AT&T will become the title sponsor of the Byron Nelson Championship when the tournament's contract with HP expires in two years, said PGA Executive Director Tim Finchem.
The announcement came at 11:30 a.m. at Dallas City Hall, as officials announced a partnership with the communications giant and Southern Methodist University to build a semi-private golf course in the Trinity River Forest south of downtown Dallas.
That course, which be used by Southern Methodist University and the First Tee of Greater Dallas, will be able to host PGA tournaments in the future. The HP Byron Nelson Championship is currently under contract with the Four Seasons Resort and Club at Las Colinas through 2018.
AT&T will assume the sponsorship for the 2015 championship.
"As Mayor of Irving, it remains my job to make sure we do everything possible to make sure that Irving retains the Byron Nelson Championship and that we work together in the best spirit of regionalism to lure a third professional golf event to the greater Irving/Dallas/Fort Worth area, so that Dallas can have one of its own," said Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne in a prepared statement, which we've posted in its entirety below this post.
The press conference announced the initial plans for the Trinity Forest Golf Complex, which will house both an 18 hole course and a 9 hole short course; a “world class” practice facility; a facility for the SMU men’s and women’s golf teams; an administrative facility for First Tee of Greater Dallas, which works with area youths; the Texas Horse Park, for the SMU equestrian teams; and recreational trails, said Mayor Mike Rawlings.
Pending approval by the City Council, construction would begin in spring of 2013 with a tentative completion date of spring 2016.
“This will be a game-changing investment in southern Dallas,” Rawlings said. “I have said for years that southern Dallas is not a charity case, it is an investment opportunity and these gentlemen saw that and stepped up.”
Once AT&T becomes the title sponsor, the company will have an easier time convincing the Nelson to come to the new Dallas course, which will be constructed with the tournament in mind.
“The possibility exists that the Byron Nelson Championship may be played at the Trinity River facility,” said Finchem by phone.
The city will spend $12 million to clean up a 400-acre landfill site that sits adjacent to the Trinity River Forest, the largest urban forest in the United States. The course will be located between Interstate 45 and Loop 12.
Rawlings promised the city “will not touch one of the trees in” the forest during construction.
“In fact, we will plant more trees,” he said.
Senior Executive President for AT&T Ron Spears, spoke after Rawlings, calling the area “an untapped jewel with tremendous potential.”
AT&T’s headquarters are located in downtown Dallas and employs more than 13,000 throughout the region.
The project also has the backing of Dallas native Lee Trevino, a 29-time PGA tour winner. He spoke of the opportunity the course will bring young minorities and said it will put the state of Texas on the map as a possibility to host a major tournament.
“This is big, folks,” he said. “This is much bigger than most people can even think about. It’s been a long time since someone built something and called it ‘world,’ this is going to be a big deal for Dallas.”
Prepared statement from Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, sent to News 8's Brad Watson:
"The City of Irving has had an extraordinary partnership with the Salesmanship Club of Dallas and the Four Seasons Resort and Club for more than 30 years now. Both are an integral part of the fabric of our community, and candidly of the entire region, and a contract remains in place for Irving to continue as host city of this event through the year 2018.
I am very pleased to see AT&T choose to align its brand with that of this great event, through its title sponsorship beginning in 2015. I have to believe that having a title sponsor whose headquarters is in the tournament’s home region will bring an investment that is beyond “brand” and “financial” – it will bring a true sense of civic pride and ownership. We are very proud to have a significant AT&T presence in Irving as well, with its Network Operations Center located just minutes from the tournament site.
This tournament has been the most successful fundraiser on the PGA TOUR for one very good reason – the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. But I believe a great element to that success has come from the only 5-star resort in Texas being the host venue. And in the great ease, efficiency, access and amenities that come with the master-planned development that is Las Colinas. The 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship will see one more new amenity that can’t be overlooked – the DART Orange Line station opening literally across the street from the tournament site, making it even easier to access this most centrally located course in the Metroplex.
As my colleague Mayor Rawlings has said, it will be Dallas’ job to lure the tournament to this new development once it is complete.
And as Mayor of Irving, it remains my job to make sure we do everything possible to make sure that Irving retains the Byron Nelson Championship and that we work together in the best spirit of regionalism to lure a third professional golf event to the greater Irving/Dallas/Fort Worth area, so that Dallas can have one of its own."
Prepared statement from Vail Tolbert, spokesperson for the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas:
Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas is thrilled to welcome AT&T on board as the 2015 title sponsor of the Byron Nelson Championship.
Their participation and contribution will be a great addition to the efforts of our partner, the Salesmanship Club of Dallas and we look forward to working together.
“The Salesmanship Club of Dallas is a delightful partner of the Resort and we have been honored to support their charitable efforts over the last 30 years. We look forward to continuing our support of this great event.” said Luis Argote, general manager at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas.
Four Seasons Resort and Club has been the host venue of the HP Byron Nelson Championship since 1983, which is now the 9th longest running tournament on the PGA TOUR schedule. Since its inception, the charitable tournament has raised over $127 million for the Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers, placing it at the top of the list of all - time tournament contributors on the PGA TOUR.
Since 2003, HP has been the title sponsor of the Byron Nelson Championship and has continued to dedicate their passion towards making this event better, year after year. Four Seasons Resort and Club is very proud of the wonderful relationship that has developed with HP over the last 10 years and we look forward to working with them in the remaining two years of their title sponsorship term.
Four Seasons Resort and Club remains in a contractual agreement with The Salesmanship Club of Dallas to be the host venue for the HP Byron Nelson Championship through the year 2018.