The Chicago USL project just got a new owner and a major boost.
Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is buying a majority stake in the new expansion team, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Ricketts will enter into a joint venture with property developers Sterling Bay, who are working to build a 20,000 seat stadium near Bucktown as part of an expansive residential and commercial redevelopment of the area. The Lincoln Yards project was packaged as part of Chicago’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.
While full terms of the deal have not been disclosed, Sterling Bay is reportedly on the hook for building the stadium and will retain an ownership stake in the USL team, while Ricketts will be the majority owner.
Sterling Bay managing partner Andy Gloor said that the Ricketts partnership is the best move toward creating a successful sports franchise.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be working with the Ricketts family to bring this project to life,” said Gloor. “With their deep expertise in sports franchising, the … (Rickettses) are an ideal partner for us to collaborate with and energize Chicago sports fans with a new local team to rally around.”
Ricketts, who bought the Cubs in 2009 and oversaw the team’s first World Series title in over a century in 2016, talked up his new investment in a statement.
“My family is very excited at the prospect of bringing professional USL soccer to Chicago at this terrific new development,” Ricketts said. “Sterling Bay is a tremendous partner and the USL has a great vision for meeting the demands of passionate fans and growing soccer’s fan base.”
In addition to his ownership of the Cubs, the 51 year old Ricketts works as a Director for TD Ameritrade, where he pulls in a salary of about $170k per year. His family has a net worth of about $1 billion. The Ricketts family has ties to the 45th President of the United States, and earlier this year his brother Todd (a co-owner of the Cubs) was named finance chair for the Republican National Committee.
Per the Tribune, Ricketts and Sterling Bay have a preexisting relationship. Gloor and fellow SB partner Matt Menna own a bar and restaurant group that operates the Brickhouse Tavern, which sits next to Wrigley Field and was developed by Ricketts.
The Chicago USL team is currently expected to begin play in the 2021 season. Sterling Bay is planning to build a training facility nearby, has also expressed interest in opening the stadium up to other sporting and entertainment events, including international soccer.