If you attended the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club last August, you saw I Love NY logos everywhere, including on volunteer uniforms. There was also a Taste NY tent, featuring foods and beverages.
"They had wine and beer and fresh fruits and all kinds of things," said Greater Rochester Enterprise CEO Mark Peterson. "It was hugely attended. You could hardly get in there, it was so busy all the time."
Taxpayers paid $1.3 million for this marketing campaign. News 8 filed a Freedom of Information request for all expenses related to the PGA on August 15. The state provided the information Monday, after News 8 contacted an attorney for Empire State Development about the delay.
The spending data shows the state paid $1 million to sponsor the PGA. That fee included 100 grounds passes for "promotional use."
The state spent $271,602 on the Taste NY tent. That included design, construction, staffing, operations, uniforms and supplies. A media night cost $4,473, including the cost of invitations and a consultant.
The state also spent $21,550 on hotels, meals, transportation and other expenses on state staff assigned to "support the PGA Tournament."
"I think what we got was a chance to feature New York State and things that we create here, we produce here, on a world stage," said Peterson. Greater Rochester Enterprise had a much smaller tent at at the tournament that it shared with Rochester Business Alliance and Pike Company. Each of the entities spent about $50,000 each on the tent.
Peterson said he was among those encouraging the state to sponsor the event.
"To be a corporate sponsor and really be at that level, yeah, it's a million-dollar play, there's no doubt about it," Peterson said.
Brighton Securities CEO George Conboy said the impact of marketing dollars is hard to measure.
"I suspect most people knew the tourney was taking place in New York State already," said Conboy. "What the incremental benefit was of spending more than a million dollars, we'll never know."
Everyone agrees the PGA provided economic benefits to Rochester. The state pointed to a $102 million impact, including jobs, sales taxes, and money spent in the area.
But the state's sponsorship came well after the PGA decided to host the event at Oak Hill.
"The PGA came to Rochester because Oak Hill is in Rochester," Conboy said. "The fact that the state spent a million bucks - nothing to do with getting the PGA sourced here."
The state's sponsorship did not play a role in the PGA coming to Rochester, but the state said it did help in securing a 2019 and 2024 events at Bethpage. In addition, the PGA is opening a satellite office in Westchester County.
New York has spent big bucks at other sporting events. It spent $5 million on the Super Bowl, a sum that included marketing efforts.
News 8 asked the state who got to use the 100 PGA passes. The state said they went to Taste NY volunteers.