Bridgestone Invitational's reported exit will strip $30 million from Akron economy

Bridgestone Invitational's reported exit will strip $30 million from Akron economy

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - It's a premier northeast Ohio sporting event but it appears the Bridgestone Invitational, played at Firestone Country Club, will not be on the PGA Tour schedule after this year.

The official announcement is expected Thursday morning.

The tournament has been big business for the Akron area. According to the Greater Akron Chamber, the week-long event generates between $24 and $30 million of economic activity for the area.

Losing the tournament also could be a big annual loss for local organizations who share, on average, $1 million-plus of charitable contributions, handed out through the Northern Ohio Golf Charities arm of the Bridgestone Invitational.

Last year, the major beneficiaries were Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital of Cleveland, which received just over $128,000, and Akron Children's Hospital, which was given more than $110,000.

Flashes of Hope, a Northeast Ohio group that provides professional photo shoots for children who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses got a big boost from the tournament.

"They've been supportive of us as a presenting sponsor of our Big Shots-Little Stars event that we do at the Q with the Cavs," Cathy Welcsh of Flashes of Hope said.

One year the tournament even hosted a photo shoot for Flashes of Hope at Firestone Country Club.

"The opportunity to get out in front of the kids and set up a photo shoot at the golf course and have the golfers participate made it a really special day for those kids who don't always get special days. That's a gift," Welcsh said.

The tournament itself is one of the premier events on the PGA Tour as it is part of the prestigious World Golf Championships.

There is speculation that the announcement Thursday will include news of a replacement tournament scheduled for Firestone.

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