Detroit in battle for shrinking sports dollar

Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:06pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

DETROIT (Reuters) - Like thousands of Michigan auto workers who have watched their jobs disappear and houses fall into foreclosure, the Buick Open was left looking for a new home earlier this month, another victim of the economic downturn.

A popular fixture on the PGA Tour calendar for more than 50 years, the Buick Open received its eviction notice after the struggling Detroit automaker confirmed it could no longer afford to continue as title sponsor.

The PGA Tour quickly found a new home for the tournament in the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, but the hole it left in recession-ravaged Michigan will not be so easily filled.

The Buick's demise adds to a summer of grim headlines for Michigan sports fans.

They also learned this month that the Indy Racing League and the Detroit Grand Prix will not be back in 2010, leaving the downtown Belle Isle circuit to joggers and cyclists.

Detroit's big four professional teams -- Lions (NFL), Tigers (MLB), Pistons (NBA) and Red Wings (NHL) -- are not looking for new addresses but are digging in for what is shaping up as a bruising battle for the shrinking sports entertainment dollar.

With the busy fall sports season about to begin the fight for fans is quickly escalating in the Motor City as teams flood the market with bargain basement deals.

SEASON PACKAGE   Continued...

<p>Fans in the gallery hold up signs and cheer for Tiger Woods at the 17th green during the Buick Open PGA golf tournament at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, Michigan August 2, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook</p>