Support Professional Pool in America!

Recent economic developments have resulted in the cancellation of the travel stipend that American players had formerly counted upon to allow them to compete internationally. This endangers the ability for America to be properly represented on the World Championship stage.  It is at times like these where supporters of the game must step up to the plate and make whatever efforts are possible to keep our cueists representing the USA. AZBilliards wishes to use the power of its website to help support professional pool in America. We are now pleased to announce, in conjunction with the Billiard Congress of America, the following plan:

Billiard product companies, tours, service companies and individual fans may now donate to a professional player travel fund that will loan American players the money they need to travel to events overseas beginning in calendar year 2009. The immediate goal is to fund all of our representatives travel costs to the World 8-Ball, 9-Ball, and 10-Ball Championships. Players covered under this plan include both male and female players.

We are delighted to report that the handful of companies that have learned of the plan thus far have been more than generous. In alphabetical order, Brunswick Billiards, Diamond Billiard Products, OB Cues and Predator Cues have all contributed at the Hero level with contributions that total more than $25,000. The complete details of their donations are forthcoming soon, but each of these firms has expressed a deep desire to assist the pros and their assistance is highly appreciated. We are quite confident that the list of donors will cover the full spectrum of names in the billiard industry.

Players from other countries often have their expenses paid by their governments. American players have no such luxury and the cost of travel to an overseas event ranges around and above $2,500 per player. With the cost of air travel ever ascending, this will become more and more of a barrier unless we do something about it. For years America has been under-represented at these events and AZBilliards feels it is imperative to take action and get Americans overseas.  

AZBilliards will recognize and publicly thank those who contribute to this fund by hosting a “Pro Players Travel Fund” page on its website. ALL contributors will be listed there and those who contribute at the Gold or higher levels will have their logos present on the page. Higher levels of contributions will receive recognition commensurate with the contribution.  

This program is an investment in the power of the professional game to help elevate the visibility of the sport and promote a healthy billiards atmosphere in the US. It is not another giveaway program. Players will be loaned funds to assist in their travel that will be paid back into the fund out of the winnings they garner at the tournament for which they accept funds. Players who accept the travel funds will be required to pay back up to 10% of their winnings in that tournament, not to exceed the amount of the loan. As an example, a player who is loaned $2000 for travel and who then wins $40,000 would only pay back 5% of his winnings into the fund as that would cover the $2000 travel loan. There is no carry-over, however. If a player who is loaned travel money fails to cash in the event for which he accepts the loan that loan is canceled and no re-payment is required. It is a pre-condition for all loans that a player's account be current. That is, all loans that were due repayment must be repaid prior to another loan being granted.

Additionally, a players current BCA player ranking determines the amount to which that player is eligible for loan. At this time the maximum loan is $2000. That is the amount the number one ranked player would receive. The number two ranked player would be eligible for 5% less than that, the number three ranked player would be eligible for 10% less, etc. The higher the ranking the larger the loan amount due to the fact that the higher-ranked players have a greater chance of earning prize money and not depleting the fund for future use.

AZBilliards wishes to heartily thank the BCA for their assistance in establishing this fund. Their help in the past few weeks researching the complexities of the tax situations surrounding this process and their gift of accounting services and their bank account are invaluable and this effort would not have been possible without their efforts.

Contributor levels:

Donor: Any amount up to $499.
Silver: Any amount between $500 and $999.
Gold: Any amount between $1,000 and $1,499
Platinum: Any amount between $1,500 and $1,999
Hero: Any amount $2,000 and above.

We are seeking benefits for those companies who contribute to this fund. First, any company (or individual) who contributes at the Gold level or above will receive a 50% discount from the retail price of advertising on AZBilliards for the entire year following their donation. This discount alone will more than cover the amount of most donations.

We are seeking like benefits from other companies and will post those benefits on the Pro Player Travel Fund page. Please volunteer your benefits to: We feel that it is very important to offer benefits to those who are willing to help our pros and are very hopeful that our industry will respond with both contributions and benefits for those who do.

For those companies who wish to donate product instead of cash we will do the following. AZBilliards will, as a part of the Player Travel Fund Page, host an auction site where your goods will be presented for sale. Minimum bids will be set at 75% of MSRP. Each item will remain on bid for a minimum of seven days. The winning bidder will write their check to “BCA”  (please write “Pro Player Travel Fund” on the notation line) and will submit their payment to: AZBilliards, 210 Tate Road, Cedartown, GA 30125. AZBilliards will maintain a current account page on AZB so that all may see the status of the fund, the names of the contributors, and to whom the funds are disbursed. The manufacturers will drop-ship the sold items to the winning bidders. In the event of a pool table or other such item we will make it a condition of the bidding that the winner is responsible for transport and installation, unless the donating company wishes to make this a bonus condition of the sale. The donating company will then receive a sponsorship status (Silver, Gold, etc.) that is commensurate with the MSRP, not the price received in the auction.

Donations are not tax exempt as pro players are not a charity. They will be standard business expense items. Players who accept the loans will be issued 1099's for the purpose of taxes but it will be a ‘wash' to those who repay the loans.  For those who do not cash in the event in which they receive assistance the loan is considered income by the IRS and will be taxed as such.

It is the hope of AZBilliards that our pro players will find a lot of ‘Heroes'.

Details, details, details...

Who will qualify to receive funds?  Any male or female professional player nominated by the BCA to attend the WPA World Championships as a representative of the USA.

How will the loans be disbursed? A check will be sent to each player as they accept their invitation. As previously detailed, the number one ranked player will be eligible for up to $2000 in travel assistance with all players receiving funds according to their rankings. Each ranking spot beneath number one results in a 5% reduction from the maximum. So the number ten ranked player will be eligible for a loan that is equal to 55% of the amount that the number one ranked player receives.

How will the loans be repaid? Any player who wins prize money at an event for which he or she has accepted a travel loan will be required to pay back that loan up to an amount equal to 10% of their prize winnings, never to be greater than the amount of the loan. This amount is figured from the top line of the prize winnings. Players who sell shares of themselves to investors are responsible to the fund for repayment for the loan based on the top line prize figure, not the figure that is left after investors shares are figured. All players who accept funds will be required to sign a document that recognizes this stipulation. Investors and other prize-sharing plans will never be taken into account as regards loan settlement. Any players who fear that this complication may harm them should simply refuse to accept the loans.

What happens to any funds collected that are above the amount required for travel? We should be so fortunate. However, the first overages will go to support our wheelchair and junior players. Any monies in excess of these needs would be applied to the following year.