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Speakers

 
Each year the National Sports Forum features 80+ speakers from a variety of leagues, organizations, agencies and top spokespeople within the sports industry.
 
Below are the speakers for the 2017 National Sports Forum.

Craig Leipold

Owner & Governor
Minnesota Wild



Craig Leipold is the majority owner and principal investor in Minnesota Sports & Entertainment (MSE), a regional sports and entertainment leader that includes the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild, the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League, 317 on Rice Park and the facility management of Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul RiverCentre and the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium. He oversees the day-to-day business operations of the organization and also serves as the team’s Governor at NHL Board of Governors’ meetings. The NHL’s Board of Governors officially approved Leipold’s purchase of MSE on April 10, 2008.
 
Under Leipold’s ownership, the Wild is dedicated to building a Stanley Cup contending franchise, playing an important role in the community through service initiatives, providing a fun and entertaining game-night experience and building strong relationships with its fans and corporate partners.
 
Leipold has advocated for the State of Hockey to host premiere NHL events, including the NHL’s 2011 Entry Draft and 2016 Coors Light Stadium Series.
 
A resident of Racine, Wis., Leipold completed the sale of the Nashville Predators to a local ownership group on Dec. 7, 2007, a team he owned since the expansion franchise was awarded to Nashville in 1997.
 
During his time as an NHL owner, Leipold has been a tireless advocate for the professional hockey industry. Appointed by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Leipold serves on both the League’s Executive committee and Audit committee. He was a member of the League Negotiating Committees that negotiated the Collective Bargaining Agreements with the NHL Players’ Association in 2005 and 2013. He is also a strong advocate for the new, more “fan-friendly” NHL, including the rule changes to promote a more entertaining competition and increased fan access to the product.
 
Craig and his wife Helen (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Outdoors, Inc., and Chairman of Johnson Financial Bank Corp.) have five sons (Chris, Kyle, Connor, Curtis and Bradford) and own five dogs. While in St. Paul, the Leipold’s live in their apartment in the historic Saint Paul Hotel.

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