MLS's Chicago Fire gets new investor

Joe Mansueto, the chairman of Morningstar, has purchased a 49 percent interest in the Chicago Fire from Andrew Hauptman, who has owned the MLS team since 2007.

Hauptman will remain chairman of the Fire the club's controlling shareholder and its representative  on the MLS Board of Governors. Mansueto will be the alternate governor.

Mansueto's arrival comes at a critical juncture for the Fire. It made the playoffs for the first time in five years in 2017 but is 6-9-5 in 2018 after losing, 4-3, at home to Philadelphia on Wednesday. The loss dropped Chicago to eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Fire is averaging 14,154 through 11 games, down from an average of 17,383 in 2017. Of the MLS teams playing in their home stadiums -- D.C. United opens at Audi Field this weekend -- only embattled Columbus is drawing fewer fans.

The Fire plays at Toyota Park in suburban Bridgeview. It will be renamed SeatGeek Stadium after the end of the 2018 MLS season. But the village of Bridgeview owns the naming rights to the debt-ridden stadium, one of MLS's first soccer-specific stadiums opened in 2006.

The ownership move comes two months after Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was announced as the new majority owner of a proposed USL team in Chicago. He is teaming up with local developer Sterling Bay as part of its proposed 70-acre Lincoln Yards development. The first public meeting on the project has been called by Alderman Brian Hopkins for next Wednesday.

"It's hard to imagine a better partner for me and our club than Joe," said Hauptman in a statement. "In addition to decades of experience as a respected business builder and leader, Joe brings a passion for soccer and cares deeply about the city of Chicago. After getting to know Joe over the past several months, it is clear we both share a common vision and ambition for the club and the enormous continued potential for Major League Soccer in Chicago."

Mansueto founded Morningstar, a leading investment research firm based in Chicago, in 1984 and stepped down as CEO at the end of 2016.

"Andrew has assembled a top-tier management team and dramatically increased the profile of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, Major League Soccer and the game overall in the Chicago area," said Mansueto. "I'm incredibly excited to partner with him to build on the club's achievements.

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1 comment about "MLS's Chicago Fire gets new investor".
  1. Ronnie L, July 13, 2018 at 7:33 p.m.

    Andrew Hauptman destroyed every single inch of the Chicago Fire. I used to look forward to watching the Fire games on TV all the way from FL back in the days because of the energy and excitement that club use to bring to the games until that man came and killed it all. That's what you get when all you care about is money.

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