Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets charity becomes main beneficiary of Players Cup

Chipman has high hopes for partnership of hockey team, PGA Tour Canada event

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A natural fit has become an initial three-year partnership between The Players Cup and the Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation for the NHL team's charitable foundation to become the primary beneficiary of the annual PGA Tour Canada event.

The Players Cup will be played July 18-21 at Pine Ridge Golf Club as one of eight tournaments in the first season of the PGA Tour's official involvement and rebranding of the Canadian circuit.

The Players Cup has returned $275,000 to local charities since 2010 and was looking for a better reach as it begins the new era under the umbrella of PGA Tour Canada.

The PGA Tour's fundraising and charitable endeavours are enormous under all of its brands -- $1.85 billion to date -- PGA Tour Canada president Jeff Monday said at a press conference at the MTS Centre.

All of which lends promise to this new partnership.

"When you see the quality of the Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation, it speaks to the level of commitment they have," Monday said. "They have a very strong brand. We feel we have a good brand, too, so when you can marry those two together and show other people the benefits of that and how you can use that in that one and one doesn't always equal two, that hopefully in this case it's three or more. Those are the types of partnerships we love to enter into."

The subject was broached informally last summer, before the PGA Tour decided to proceed with taking control of the Canadian tour.

Then, True North chairman and Jets co-owner Mark Chipman was reserved about what was in play.

"I think my reservation was about us doing the golf tournament, about it being a Winnipeg Jets golf tournament," Chipman said at Wednesday's press conference. "I didn't know that would work. The availability of players in July is tough.

"But when it became more about aligning ourselves with their event, their pro-am and then being able to participate as a beneficiary, that suggested to me their interest in aligning with us was very genuine.

"I've been very impressed with the intention of all of this. The PGA Tour has a very rich history of their own of contributing in a very meaningful way in communities where their sport is played."

The Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation's increase in programming has been evident with its hockey academy efforts in three different school divisions -- from 25 kids to 425 this year to likely more than 500 next year -- and new levels like the Project 11 mental-health initiative, not to mention all the agencies it has supported through its years, also as the Manitoba Moose Yearling Foundation.

The Players Cup is an entity to be admired, Chipman said.

"Having thought about this, it's kind of scratched and clawed its way along, always maintained itself as a pre-eminent event on the tour," Chipman said. "I honestly think that's a reflection of all the volunteers, the sponsorship, the organizing committees over the years that just never allowed this to slip back."

This summer's Players Cup will include the Tuesday Celebrity Pro-Am. Committed to participating are Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and current Jets radio analyst Shane Hnidy. The fundraising associated with the event will being in earnest shortly with a "The Players Cup Ultimate Sports Raffle."

Tickets will be $50 and include a weekly pass to the Players Cup. The raffle prizes include a trip to the 2014 Masters, a suite for a 2013-14 Jets regular-season game, corporate membership for four at Pine Ridge, 2013 Winnipeg Blue Bombers season tickets and 2014 Winnipeg Goldeyes season tickets.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 18, 2013 D6

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