The Professional Squash Association (PSA) has announced the largest-ever investment in international professional squash by the Sports, Media and Entertainment Group led by Mark Walter. The investment marks a significant moment for the professional game, which promises to directly impact the presentation and reach of the sport in the United States. Walter is the co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chelsea Football Club, and has previously been instrumental to the success of professional squash through title sponsorship of events including the PSA World Squash Championships, making it squash’s first $1,000,000 prize money event in 2019 and repeating that support in 2021 and 2023.
The U.S. has become a focal point for the PSA Tour, with more PSA tournaments held in the country annually than in any other worldwide. A significant proportion of global prize money resides in events including the Platinum-level U.S. Open Squash Championships in Philadelphia and Tournament of Champions in New York City, and the PSA World Championships in Chicago. In 2013 the U.S. Open pioneered prize money parity, which is now standard across all major professional squash events.
Four American women are now ranked in the world top 16 and multiple American men reached career-high rankings in 2023. Over 80 Americans are currently ranked on the PSA Tour along with many other international playing professionals who are currently based and training in the country.
“Mark Walter’s investment in the sport will accelerate the tour’s development and marketability, and provide a broader platform to showcase these amazing athletes beyond the core squash audience,” said Kevin Klipstein, president & CEO of US Squash. “We believe this presents a major opportunity for professional squash and to create broader awareness of the sport in the U.S.”
Squash SM&E Holdings Commits to Major Investment in Professional Squash
Article reprinted courtesy of the Professional Squash Association
May 23, 2023
The Sports, Media and Entertainment Group led by businessman and philanthropist Mark Walter has acquired a stake in Squash Media & Marketing (SMM), a commercial entity created and managed by the Professional Squash Association (PSA), as part of a major investment in the sport.
The investment will be used to optimize the structure of the PSA Tour and will allow SMM to deliver more events with a view to increasing player compensation and improving the fan experience.
The additional funding will also be used to increase marketing of the sport and the PSA’s athletes, develop new digital products and services to offer to squash fans worldwide and ramp up the creation and distribution of engaging content.
Mark Walter said: “I think professional squash is a global, highly diverse and exciting sport with a tremendous growth opportunity. We are excited to invest in the future of the sport and look forward to working with the PSA to make this a broader and more inclusive sport and to bring it to more fans.”
Mark and Kimbra Walter have long been supporters of squash, including sponsoring the Windy City Open and PSA World Championships. With the Walters as the title sponsor of the PSA World Championships, the sport’s biggest tournament became the first squash event to offer $1,000,000 in total player compensation – with equal compensation for men and women players – four years ago. The 2022-23 PSA World Championships concluded earlier this month in Chicago, with Ali Farag and Nour El Sherbini being crowned World Champions on the spectacular all-glass court erected at Chicago’s Union Station.
The 2022-23 PSA World Championships take were held at Chicago’s Union Station.
PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough said: “We believe that having the financial backing of The Walter Group will be a game changer for professional squash. Mark Walter has been an incredible supporter of the sport since 2015 and his investment will enable us to accelerate our development of the professional game.
“We have an ambitious strategy that aims to modernize and grow the sport at the highest level. We will also be looking to streamline the PSA Tour structure to increase the playing opportunities and earning potential for our athletes, as well as helping them rise up the PSA World Rankings.
“This is an incredibly exciting time for everyone involved in professional squash. Since our Chairman Ziad Al-Turki came aboard in 2008, the professional game has gone through unprecedented growth and this investment represents the next step in the sport’s evolution. We look forward to releasing details of our long-term strategy to the squash community in due course.”
Previously, SMM received an investment from Infront in February 2021, which positioned the leading sports marketing agency as a strategic commercial partner of SMM.