The 2018/19 PSA World Championships will become the first squash tournament to award a $1 million prize as part of a multi-year sponsorship deal with the Chicago-based Walter Family.
As part of the agreement, the City of Chicago will host the tournament for the next two cycles, in winter 2019 and 2021, and it will be renamed The Walter Family PSA World Championships in those years.
The new prize money amounts to a doubling of the 2017 purse and will be split equally between the men’s and women’s brackets.
“The women’s and men’s prizes are the same — and that has been the case since my wife and I became involved — because it reflects the value we place on gender equality, and it recognises this incredibly talented group of athletes,” said Mark Walter, who lives in Chicago with his wife, Kimbra, and their daughter.
“The PSA World Championships is the pinnacle of the sport, and the $1 million prize fund is a fantastic reflection of the growth that squash has gone through during the past few years,” said PSA Chief Executive Officer Alex Gough.
Under a separate agreement with the Walter Family, the Windy City Open, the PSA World Series tournament, will return in 2020 to Chicago with a $500,000 prize pool – making it the most lucrative PSA World Tour event outside of the World Championships.
The University Club of Chicago will continue to host and promote the Open.
Walter first became involved with professional squash in 2015 when Guggenheim Partners, the investment firm he cofounded, became a sponsor of the Windy City Open. He was pleased to discover that the Open already had an official charity partner in MetroSquash, which trains Chicago Public School students in the sport and improves their academic achievement.
Through this agreement, the charity partnership will extend to the World Championships, enabling MetroSquash students to attend and hit on court with some of the top players in the world.
“My wife, Kimbra, and I are supporting the growth of squash in Chicago for three reasons,” Walter said.
“We want to raise money for MetroSquash, a terrific charity, and allow the kids to hit the court. We want to give this tremendously talented and highly diverse group of athletes the recognition they deserve. And we want to show off Chicago as a home for world-class sports.”
The Walter Family is active in philanthropy, focusing on the inner-city opportunity gap, social justice, education and conservation. Walter owns businesses in the investments, insurance, sports, media, real estate, and food-service industries.
University Club of Chicago Athletic Director and Windy City Open promoter John Flanigan said:
“Since 2004, the Windy City Open has grown in stature every year to become one of the leading events on the PSA World Tour and to continue that journey in 2020 is tremendously exciting.”