Edited by Tanner Simkins
In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick Horrow sits down with LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan and takes you through the biggest sports business stories of the week.
Family-friendly Gainbridge LPGA event offers something for everyone. Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio kicks off this week with 108 of the world’s best female golfers teeing it up in the four-day championship, January 23-26. Event officials have outlined additional family-friendly and affordable tournament week offerings for the whole community. The tournament kicks off on Monday with the Gainbridge Junior Golf Clinic at Osprey Point Golf Course. LPGA Players and certified golf instructors will be on hand to offer free golf instruction to kids ages 5 and up. On Tuesday, #GainbridgeLPGA is teaming up with Versant Health for a Women’s Leadership Summit that will feature a panel headlined by female business leaders, a fireside chat with a LPGA Tour pro, and presentations from pioneering female leaders. Next weekend, A.D. Henderson University School will offer free onsite STEM activities for kids of all ages. “Gainbridge is committed to making sure the week is affordable for the entire family and that there is something for everyone, beyond golf,” said Lesley Baker, Executive Director. “We are thrilled the tournament is able to offer several programs throughout the week in year one, and we invite everyone in the community to come out and experience the event.”
NHL All-Star Game takes the ice and the streets in St. Louis. The NHL has lined up its roster of activations for the 2020 NHL Fan Fair, the official fan festival of the2020 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend, running January 23-26 in St. Louis. Partners gearing up for the event include Enterprise, Honda, New Amsterdam Vodka, Truly, Discover, Dunkin’, Bud Light, GEICO, Great Clips, MassMutual, and SAP. Highlights of the four-day, family-friendly festival include autograph sessions featuring former and current NHL All-Stars; a Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit featuring the St. Louis Blues; NHL memorabilia and trophy displays, including the Stanley Cup; and the sixth annual NHL Mascot Showdown featuring all 29 NHL Mascots. Additionally, the NHL and Green Day will build on their multiyear partnership with the band’s headlining performance at the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game on January 25. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees will perform outside Enterprise Center shortly before they take the stage inside during the second intermission presented by Ticketmaster. The performance – as always, aimed at expanding hockey’s demographic reach – will be televised as part of the live All-Star Game broadcast on NBC and throughout Canada.
The WNBA and its players’ union have come to terms on a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement that includes higher salaries, improved family benefits, and better travel accommodations. This represents a turning point for women’s basketball and could ultimately lead to a substantial shift in how female athletes — across all sports — are compensated. The average WNBA cash compensation will reach nearly $130,000, and top players will be able to earn upwards of $500,000. Players will also receive a full salary while on maternity leave, and an annual child care stipend of $5,000. WNBA teams, which provide housing, will now guarantee two-bedroom apartments for players with children. And while players will still have to fly commercial, they’ll finally get their own individual hotel rooms. “We believe it’s a groundbreaking and historic deal. I’m proud of the players; they bargained hard, they unified, they brought attention to so many important topics,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. The implications of this agreement reach beyond basketball into the larger workplace, at a time when women are demanding increased pay and benefits, on their merit and as a challenge to historically unequal pay.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred came down hard on the Houston Astros last week for illegally stealing signs in 2017. Penalties Manfred imposed included a $5 million fine, the forfeitures of several top draft picks, and one-year suspensions from the game for manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow – who were subsequently fired by Astros owner Jim Crane. While the Astros have suffered irrevocable damage as a result of this investigation, ripple effects extend far beyond Houston. Former Astros bench coach and Boston manager Alex Cora was also fired by the Red Sox for his involvement in the Houston sign-stealing, and former Astros player Carlos Beltran, whom the Mets hired as manager just days before the first sign-stealing story broke, was canned and thus had the shortest tenure in Mets history. The sign-stealing scandal also likely extends beyond Boston and Houston, and the league will have no choice but to pursue all future leads now that the precedent has been set. While MLB’s strict punishment will likely help dissuade teams from breaking the rules, further action is still required to quell public concerns about cheating.