The WNBA is not an ethical beacon enough to pretend to do this, but I’ll admit it: in this league you don’t have to worry too much about old-school corruption নেই there’s no shady court agreement, no city council disputes, no development commitments. Last week, the mayor of Anaheim resigned when an FBI investigation revealed plans to ask the Angels Exxon to fund a campaign in exchange for help selling Anaheim Stadium. The news made me think about the mayor that maybe some WNBA-related citizen would be caught in the scandal and I didn’t have to think for long. This is absolutely Laurie Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago and WNBA Seiko.
Lightfoot, who announced his bid for re-election yesterday, is a regular and long-time season ticket holder at the Chicago Sky Games. A Chicago-based defector staff writer recently saw him deliver the inaugural address at the Sky’s Championship banner-raising ceremony. Before you dismiss it as a token of the mayor’s interest in local parties, be aware that Lightfoot has not treated them warmly at all. In response to the Bears’ bid on the stadium grounds in Arlington Heights, for example, he Issued a statement Beers should “focus on being relevant to the October past.” Two weeks after the last fall দুই two weeks after Lightfoot announced Sept. 16 as “Candace Parker’s Day,” two weeks before Sky won the 2021 WNBA title, and one week before the Bears ceased to be relevant, I sent a public record request to Lightfoot’s office in her hometown. Curious about the mayor’s relationship with the WNBA team.
As it turns out, he may have had some hand in building it. In December 2020, just before the holidays, Sky owner Michael Alter emailed Lightfoot’s wife, Amy Ashleman, asking for a favor. “The sky, as you know, has just made it into a painful season: financially, extremely painful; On the court, it’s frustrating because we firmly believe that if we were healthy, we would be competing for the championship, “Alter wrote. “This coming season will be very difficult. However, there are some exciting things at work that, if we can pull it off, will greatly help the league grow. (If you’re interested, I’d love to meet you with more details). “
Alter went on to say that he hoped Lightfoot could come out in support of an amendment to the Sports Betting Act passed last summer. The initial bill gave Chicago’s leading men’s professional teams the opportunity to apply for sports betting licenses; The proposed amendment would allow Sky to do the same. Ashleman forwarded the email to Lightfoot and told Alter to expect a call from the mayor. “I want to hear about your plans for the team and the league when you have some time,” Ashleman wrote in his response.
This was by no means a successful interaction: Lightfoot never called Alter, the amendment has not yet been passed, and a public record request made by the Chicago Board of Ethics will eventually fine Alter 5,000 for failing to register as a lobbyist if this email is turned on. Chicago Tribune. But in late January, Alter returned to the Chicago First Lady with a different question. “I haven’t heard from the mayor about sports betting yet, but I’m actually writing about something else,” he wrote. “Candace Parker.”
Parker, who grew up in Naperville near the Los Angeles Sparks star, was a free agent who was off-season and not eligible for the original position, the equivalent of a WNBA franchise tag. He had “several positive conversations” with Sky about signing with Alter and Sky head coach and GM James Wade. Alter wrote, “Do you think Mayor Candace would be willing to give a call – or send him a text, encouraging him to come and play in Chicago? We’re removing all the stops we can think of to make him feel ‘home’.“
During this time, Lightfoot gained an interest and urgency that he did not show at all towards gambling. The next day he responded by telling Alter that he was “always happy to help you, and especially on this mission.” He suggested connecting by phone or zoom to talk more about the call, and even a deputy mayor copied his contacts with the city’s sports teams. Lightfoot writes, “If Candace comes to Sky, we’d love to partner with you to make it a really great deal for fans to come and watch the games,” Lightfoot wrote.
Alter promised to contact the two and asked if he could forward the email exchange to Parker. Lightfoot agreed, and his enthusiasm for writing alone did the trick. Two days later, on January 26, Alter sent an update to Lightfoot: “She’s coming !! Thanks for the help! I’ll connect the two of you soon. ”
Ashleman, thrilled, told Alter and Lightfoot that they “should think creatively about making the most of this news.” He advised Lightfoot to get a jersey with Parker’s name and number so the mayor could make a welcome video. Alter asked Lightfoot if he was interested in attending a virtual press conference announcing the signing, and just minutes later, Lightfoot said he was.
A virtual Candace Parker signing event was a strange place for an opposition mayor. The press conference is February 2; At the time, Lightfoot was in the midst of a very public showdown with the Chicago Teachers Union, whose proposed safe reopening measures he rejected before threatening to lock down teachers in the city. An email exchange before Parker’s press conference suggested that Lightfoot knew the optics were weird, too. “We need to make sure that their media person says media questions should be on topic,” he wrote in an email to his colleagues Kelsey Nulf and Ashleman. Nulph replied, “You’re not asking questions – there are only people listed,” copying the agenda part that said Alter, minority owner John Rogers, Wade and Parker would take questions. “But if I’m still on screen, reporters might think I’m here,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot fled the press conference without question. In an email to Alter after the event, he regained his composure: “Candace speaks very well and you can see the sincerity of coming home.” Reminders from various Outlook calendars indicate that Lightfoot participated in games throughout the season, and he paid special attention to the team during their post-season run.
He wanted everyone’s attention. The day after defeating Sky Minnesota Link in the second round of the WNBA Playoff singles-elimination, Lightfoot sent an email to its director of digital strategy, its deputy director of digital strategy, its communications director and its chief of staff. Subject line, “Chicago Sky Playoff Victory.” He asked, “Did we publish anything on social media about Sky Joy last night? If not, we should do it today. ” (They had.) The next night, after Sky Connecticut took Game 1 of their semifinal series against the Sun, he emailed the group again, this time on the subject line “Sky Win Tonight”. Lightfoot wrote, “Chicago Sky has just won a double overtime game against the Connecticut Sun on the home court of the Sun in five semifinals.” “It simply came to our notice then. We should give them some love. ”
Jimena Larkin, director of digital strategy, told Lightfoot that they are already in it, adding that Courtney Vanderslut has created a WNBA playoff support record. “I know!” Lightfoot replied. “Great thing all around.”