"Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and crack jacks", but what does it take to insure that ballgame or those cracker jacks? Professional sports have interwoven their significance into our society and it may seem like second nature to attend a professional sporting event, but there are a lot of moving parts in play that need to be considered and insured against in order to execute a successful event. Chuck and Grant discuss the business of insuring professional sports ahead of the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals home opener.
Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure. For more information on the topics discussed in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.
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Grant FINLEY: Welcome to Your Insurance Connection Podcast. I'm your host, Grant Finley, joined by the President of CLH Insurance, Chuck Hembree. Chuck, how are you today?
Chuck HEMBREE: I'm doing well, thank you.
FINLEY: Well, Chuck, as any Saint Louisian, is Saint Louisian right? As any Saint Louisian knows, opening day for the Cardinals is right around the corner.
HEMBREE: April 2nd! I know we have some employees going and deference to our Kansas City clients over there, and the Royals who have done very, very well. Best wishes to you, but we are concentrating on April 2nd, the St. Louis opening day here.
FINLEY: We've got the World Series champion Cubs coming to town, Sunday night, it's going to be a monumentous occasion, but with that big event taking place, I got to thinking, just what are the insurance implications of hosting an event like a Major League Baseball game? Or even, if it's hockey season, even a Blues game? Whether it's the venue, whether it's the professional team, whether it's the players, whether it's the fans in attendance - I feel like there are a lot of moving parts here. Can you put some of this into perspective? First of all, is there a blanket coverage that an MLB team or the facility would have to protect themselves?
HEMBREE: Well, you put it right with "many moving parts" and the more moving parts you have, then you have to be really good and integrating all the different coverages that are needed to successfully protect an event like this. Just think about all the moving parts that are just there to make it function correctly. You've got vendors, you've got participants coming, to get in, to manage it, to start on time, the lighting, the scoreb - there are just so many parts of a successful event and there are, likewise, many parts that have to be integrated together for successful protection. If we have a single entity that manages all of those different activities, then yes, maybe one policy can be done. More likely, you've got different entities that need to be covered more or less for a big event like that.
FINLEY: So, I believe the Dewitt family owns the Cardinals organization as well as Busch Stadium. I think they own it all. Whereas the Blues; the Scottrade Center is owned by the city of St. Louis and the Blues are just their primary tenant. So, let's take both these examples and can you say for the Cardinals, would they just need a general liability but their numbers are going to be staggering compared to the small business owner down the street? And then we can look at the Blues and how the Scottrade Center might be different from the Blues organization.
HEMBREE: Well then, obviously, they would need property coverage as well. With a larger organization like that, they might partially self-insure on this as well, or they might take out a traditional coverage that most of us are used to. But they would need property and liability, but then they would also need to make sure that those who work with them, like the food vendors, or, you know they're always inviting outside groups to come in - that they have their own insurance too in case those particular people cause bodily injury or property damage that the facility and the team could be sued for. That is closer to one-entity coverage. Now, if we go over to Scottrade Center like you were talking about with the Blues. The Blues need all of their coverage for their equipment, all of the things that they have there and probably store inside Scottrade Center and Scottrade Center needs its own coverage for that facility and for all the public that's coming on because they have a higher degree of liability than if the Blues owned the facility and had the game as well.
FINLEY: Going back to the single entity like the Cardinals then, could you do a Business Owners Policy where it's got a few different policies wrapped in there or - I imagine just the size of it is going to be a lot larger, but -
HEMBREE: Yeah, it's too large an entity for a Business Owners Policy, so they would have to have a package at the very least. Some of these types of things can be done with a Special Events Policy. So, if we had a one time 5k run in downtown St. Louis, then we could write a Special Event Policy but with reoccurring things like this, for like a baseball season, and remember the Cardinals also encompass Spring Training, which we're enjoying right now, so they have facilities down there. All their farm clubs, so they have a giant operation and no Business Owners is going to cover that one. It's going to be a package policy with its multiple moving parts too to cover all the inland marine coverages, the liability coverages, and the property coverages, the workers compensation coverages that are needed and some of those are pretty hefty and so they probably have all kinds of different life, key man insurance policies, very broad spectrum of protection that's needed for a large organization like that versus a single event that could have thousands of people.
FINLEY: Which kind of agencies typically write this? I know this isn't our wheelhouse but is this something an average agency could write or is it going to be something like a Lloyds of London where we've talked about previously that do these large policies and coverages?
HEMBREE: I don't know that Lloyds gets too much into this part, but there are specialized carriers that carry it and yes, some of our standard companies would have the capabilities of taking care of this very, very well. So, if an agency, even like ours, had contacts there we could accomplish doing that correctly. But you also have to think about what kind of manpower and employee service needs to be provided for an entity like that, and while we have great expertise here, that's just not something we're going after because you not only get into the actuarial insurance, but in the risk management of an event like that as well.
FINLEY: Curious about some other aspects of this too. So, the Cardinals who own Busch Stadium are bringing in Billy Joel this summer. So an event like that, does Billy Joel and his contingency need its own insurance too?
HEMBREE: Well, typically in a situation like that, that venue is being leased out. St. Louis used to have - and I don't think they're still around (they are, see show notes), but the old Contemporary Productions, and they did a lot of those types of events. So they would lease and have an agreement with the Cardinal organization and the stadium to use that facility and they would have their own liability and then they would be working as agents and promoters. They would be working with these celebrities and these celebrities and their groups like Metallica or Billy Joel, they'll have their own liability and own coverage for all of the equipment that they have, which can be sizable, it may include auto if they've got semi-tractor trailers moving in all the equipment and they coordinate all those things. It's almost like a joint venture between all these, but each one coordinates the coverage.
FINLEY: So then, what about suite holders at these various events? Do they need to have any type of liability or any type of insurance whenever - Boeing owns a suite at one of these events, is there anything in there that they would need to take out liability insurance for themselves while they're in that facility or does the Cardinals', or the Blues', or the Scottrade's liability cover anything that might happen in there?
HEMBREE: The answer is yes.
FINLEY: Does your homeowners protect you, I suppose, if you own a suite or is something else that you might need?
HEMBREE: Well, they typically don't own it, they buy the rights to it for a time, maybe a season or something like that. They only need liability in the sense that if they cause property damage to that suite or if somebody trips and falls because of their activities not the stadium's activities, that they have some liability, so their general liability would cover them. Just like if you and I go to the game and we're sitting in the seats and we get up and knock over some little old lady whose trying to get her popcorn and she breaks her hip. She's going to expect our homeowners to respond. Then, the Cardinals and their vendors, because they outsource the concessionaire, those people need to have their own in case they accidentally knock over a client whose leasing one of those suites. Every person needs their own liability to cover bodily injury and property damage that they might cause and that's how the world works when we do it properly.
FINLEY: Fireworks, contests, attractions, different things that take place during a baseball game. Are those endorsements? Are they part of the general package in one of those different policies? Is there anything about those that would be different or is that wrapped into everything else that goes on at a baseball game?
HEMBREE: Well, again, it depends on how they set it up. Is this the Cardinals own employees who set that off? Generally it's not, they'll contract with an outside vendor to do the fireworks, who has the expertise to do it the way that they want it and that entity needs to have their own insurance. Of course, since the Cardinals are sponsoring it, or whatever entity is sponsoring those fireworks, they do need some as well and that can be an endorsement.
FINLEY: So, we've kind of danced around this, but I imagine the cost of insuring these different areas for a professional sports team or a facility is pretty high and what is that number based on? Is it attendance? Is it revenue? What might it be?
HEMBREE: Well, it can be all of those, but you're exactly right, it can be high. That's why it's reflected in the price of a ticket. Insurance is just one of those things that gets into that price of the ticket. The salaries that they're paying the players. The maintenance and upkeep to run a facility like that in a huge organization like the Cardinals. All of those go into what a ticket is made up of and you can see why it can get so huge. So, it depends on what kind of coverage that they're needing, but yes revenues and number of participants are a good measure of how large the liability can be and so they will use those metrics to come up with a premium.
FINLEY: This is just a fascinating topic and we've only just scratched the surface of this. We're talking about the stuff that the fan sees whenever they go out to the game and they interact with the club. We haven't even gotten into stuff that goes on behind the scenes. There's so many layers and we haven't even talked about some of the other layers, but there's a lot there, and as we said at the offset there's a lot of moving parts. It's amazing that every occurrence can be insured for, but it happens, and so I certainly want to thank you for providing some insight into this stuff. I know this isn't what CLH focuses on, but there's a lot here.
HEMBREE: No, but it tells you the expertise that an agent needs to have in order to properly insure something because they have to uncover all the moving parts or else we can't properly cover them. So you want to work with people that that is their niche and they have a lot of experience because they will bring all that knowledge and insight and do a great job for you. But it is neat for us to look from the outside of such a popular thing in St. Louis as the Cardinals and see a little bit of what makes it tick and how we protect the public.
FINLEY: Yeah, and I would challenge anybody who goes out for that opening game, or any game this season, or watches a game, just to think, get outside of your normal perspective and think about all the moving parts and all the things that go on to put on that event and it might just change the way you view sports a little bit.
HEMBREE: Just read the back of your ticket. There it is, there's an insurance waiver right there.
FINLEY: Absolutely, it's everywhere. Alright, Chuck, thank you very much for this one, and we look forward to talking to you next time.
HEMBREE: Thanks, Grant.
Your Insurance Connection podcast can be heard on iTunes and Stitcher or by visiting clhins.com/content/podcast. If you like what you’ve heard you can support this podcast by rating and/or sharing it on your social platforms. CLH Insurance is a “Trusted Choice”, independent agency servicing Missouri, Kansas and Illinois. For more information on CLH Insurance, visit clhins.com or call 636.391.0700 to speak with an agent. Until we connect again, thanks for listening.
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Show Notes - Where you can learn more about the people and ideas discussed in this episode.
St. Louis Cardinals
Kansas City Royals
Major League Baseball
St. Louis Blues