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Visit Florida Sponsorship in Jeopardy

Troy Flis downplays potential Visit Florida sponsorship exit…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Visit Florida Racing team owner Troy Flis has downplayed reports that Visit Florida is set to suspend title sponsorship of his team, and said he’s hopeful of coming to an agreement of continuing its long-standing partnership with the state’s official tourism board.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported last week that Visit Florida gave a 30-day cancelation notice on June 2 to Flis’ Spirit of Daytona operation, in wake of budget cuts, primarily around sponsorship programs.

A $76 million marketing plan was approved by its board of directors on Tuesday that, however, eliminates $11 million from its sponsorship pool, which, according to reports, included a $2.875 million contract with Flis’ team.

“Right now we’re still in negotiations with them and talking with them on going further,” Flis told Sportscar365.

“We had an agreement with them through the end of this year. Some other stuff is [indicating] they are going to cut that. But there’s still stuff happening.

“[Visit Florida] will be on the car until our agreement is totally null and void.

“Right now, they’ll be on the car for the next couple of races for sure and I don’t see them coming off.”

While having served as the primary sponsor the for last four-and-half years, including the rebranding of the team to Visit Florida Racing in 2015, Flis admitted he’s working on securing additional sponsorship for his Riley Mk. 30 Gibson, should the deal come to an early end.

“We have some other potential stuff happening,” he said. “We’ll be working on that pretty hard right now too just to have a plan because we know we need something.”

Flis has given high praise to the tourism board, which he credits the Visit Florida campaign for bringing millions of tourists to the state annually since the program’s launch in 1996.

More than 112 million tourists visited Florida last year, spending $108 billion and supporting nearly 1.5 million jobs.

“We’ve been a really good partner for them and they’ve been a really good partner for us,” Flis said. “We’d hate to see it go and I don’t believe it’s anything team-related. It’s just kind of a politics thing and how it’s laid out and what’s happening in Florida right now.

“Once they can restructure what they’re going to do… We believe we are one of their better partners and I think they do too. We’re hoping they decide the same way and they stick with us.

“We owe it to them as they’ve been really good to us. If I don’t have anything else to put on [the car], I’d rather have Visit Florida on there.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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