Deane Beman moved less than 100 PGA Tour employees into their new 24,000-square foot headquarters building a few hundred yards away from the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course in 1980.
At the time, he and the staff were delighted to finally have their own home.
“It was an important day for us because every place we had used until then was rented,” said the former Tour commissioner. “It was the first thing we ever really owned. It was a special day.”
More than 37 years later, the Tour is finally moving again, to a 187,000 square foot structure that is nearly eight times larger than the original building — fitting, because growing from one professional golf tour to six has increased the staff by a factor of eight to nearly 800 in Ponte Vedra.
The Tour announced plans for its “Global Home,” on Friday during a presentation at the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse that included Gov. Rick Scott, all five St. Johns County commissioners, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Tour employees who got the first look at their new home that will be constructed on the current site of The Players Championship public parking lot off State Road 210.
In a video and artist’s renditions, they saw a spacious and airy three-story building with two wings connected by 20-foot-wide bridges that will be surrounded by a freshwater lake that symbolizes the Stadium Course’s signature hole, No. 17 and its Island Green.
There will be floor-to-ceiling windows and five skylights to emphasize natural light.
The headquarters is being designed by the London-based architectural firm of Foster + Partners. Construction will begin after this year’s Players Championship May 10-13 and is scheduled to be completed by 2020.
The Tour staff currently occupies 17 buildings or units throughout northern St. Johns County. Commissioner Jay Monahan said it’s time everyone got under the same roof.
“It’s been a challenge, it’s been inconvenient and it’s been inefficient,” he said. “We’ve grown and we’ve known for awhile that it’s time for a change. We can’t wait to be on-line and for all of us to be in that building. It will be an awesome facility in which to work, in a wonderful county, a great state and a great area.”
The Tour will receive nearly $3 million in economic incentives from St. Johns County. It did not release the cost of the project but last year estimated in a grant application submitted to the county’s Economic Development Agency that a 210,000-square foot building would cost an estimated $81 million.
The incentive package includes fast-track permitting, an economic development grant of up to 100 percent of impact fees and water and sewer connection fees and four years of ad valorem taxes on capital improvements and tangible personal property.
In exchange, the Tour says moving to the new building will result in 300 new jobs over a 10-year period. Last September, county officials said they would expect a return of around $7 million to the general fund over a 20-year period and the Tour said the new jobs, which would have an estimated average salary of $79,442, would eventually pump $26 million in tax revenue into the county coffers.
“The collaboration between the Tour and the county is second to none,” Monahan said.
Scott noted the Tour’s long-time relationship with the First Coast and the fact that nine events on its three major tours are held in the state.
“We thank Jay and everyone for their commitment to Ponte Vedra and all the jobs they’ll be creating,” Scott said. “It’s unbelievable, the impact of the Tour. Everybody loves to come to their tournaments and it’s remarkable how much money is generated for charity.”
One impact of the new headquarters will be on parking for The Players Championship. Tournament executive director Jared Rice said about 2,000 of the 13,000 parking spaces may be lost for the March, 2019 tournament when construction begins, but some of the spaces may be restored after the building is completed.
Rice said The Players will re-double its emphasis on car-pooling, providing free parking passes for cars with four or more passengers and asking fans to rely on transportation services such as Uber.
“We have more challenges and we have to deal with it quicker for 2019, since we’re going to March,” Rice said. “We’re going to look at satellite locations we haven’t had to look at for many years [such as lots at the University of North Florida and the old Best Bet facility] and ride-sharing and car-pooling will be that much more critical. We have already started to explore all options.”