Reports: Bridgestone pulling its golf tournament out of northeast Ohio

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AKRON, Ohio - An announcement is expected early Thursday confirming what has been rumored since last fall, that the area's most prestigious golf tournament will be moving from northeast Ohio.

For decades, Firestone Country Club has hosted some of the world's best golfers for the NEC Tournament, The Bridgestone World Golf Championship and several PGA Championships.

The expectation is that Bridgestone and the PGA will be announcing on Thursday that the tournament will be moving to Memphis Tennessee beginning in 2019.

A news conference is scheduled for 9am at the Firestone Country Club in Akron with a second news conference reportedly scheduled at Shelby Farms in Memphis.

Speculation is that the PGA wanted to re-align its schedule moving the Bridgestone Tournament to an earlier time.

The Bridgestone Tournament Executive Director, Don Padgett, had no comment on Wednesday in advance of Thursday's announcement.

The City of Akron, Northern Ohio Golf Charities, and Bridgestone were also not commenting.

The expectation that the tournament will be moving comes as a disappointment to Dan Konvolinka, who has been a volunteer for the tournament here for the past eleven years.
"I remember watching that as a kid you know, and it's just always been around," said Konvolinka. "It's just a little bit of a letdown after having a PGA Tournament, world-class tournament there all the time and now not having it it's just, it's just kind of sad," he added.

"It's just the loss to the area and Memphis - it really replaces the St. Jude Classic for the Children's Hospital there. And I'm sure they think they will have a better attendance than we have had here for the last couple of years," said Dave Shookman, an Akron area golfer who carries with him a treasured money clip that is given as a token to the golfers who play in the tournament.

Throughout the years, the prestigious tournament has contributed tremendously to area charities.  Businesses have prospered on the money that comes into the area from the visitors and the golfers themselves.

There is speculation that the tournament could be replaced by another PGA event, perhaps a tournament on the senior tour.

But most in the Akron area know that any replacement would likely not have the regional impact of the events that Firestone has hosted over the past several decades.

"I would think that they would have to use the facility somehow, but to bring money back into Akron as the NEC did I don't think that's going to happen anymore," said Akron Golfer Vito Guarnari.

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