As the Chicago Fire continue to make progress toward finalizing a deal to move to Soldier Field, marking the end of the Bridgeview era, another new era is set to begin as well.
Joe Mansueto bought a controlling stake in the team from Andrew Hauptman, the club announced Friday. Effective immediately, Mansueto takes over as the sole owner of the Fire. Last July, Mansueto bought a 49 percent stake in the Fire from Hauptman.
Hauptman first bought the team in 2007 from Anschutz Entertainment Group.
This news comes a day after a vote was passed by the Chicago Park District to allow the Fire to finalize a deal to move back to Soldier Field for the 2020 season.
“What the Fire has achieved has been transformational for the club and the city of Chicago,” Hauptman said in a statement released by the Fire. “We’ve significantly increased soccer’s presence and built an ecosystem that rivals any club across North America. I’m extremely proud of the positioning of the club at this historic juncture. I know that the next step of returning to Soldier Field will make Chicago proud and I look forward to cheering on Joe, the Club and its supporters as they continue this legacy.”
Under Hauptman’s control, the Fire struggled on the field. The team made the Eastern Conference Finals three consecutive years from 2007-09, but hasn’t won a playoff game since.
The Fire have two playoff appearances in that span, in 2012 and 2017. In both years, the Fire lost single-elimination matches at home.
Mansueto is the executive chairman of Morningstar, an investment research firm based in Chicago.
“I joined Andrew as a partner because he developed a tremendous platform for continued soccer growth across Chicago and beyond,” Mansueto said in the statement. “He and the entire organization have worked tirelessly to dramatically increase the profile of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, MLS and the game overall and have left a wonderful legacy for our city. The timing of this transaction couldn’t be better as we return the world’s game to the city I love. Andrew and his family will always be part of the Fire family that he cares so very much about.”
The Fire did not release specifics on the price of the sale.
The ownership change leads to many questions about what else will change at the club. The stadium move is significant, but will there be any other significant changes going forward? Fire general manager and president Nelson Rodriguez has openly talked about the club considering a rebrand of some kind. Does this affect any final decisions regarding that?
Either way, this marks a significant moment for the Chicago Fire.