MLS' Don Garber Encouraged Joe Manseuto To Purchase Fire
MLS Commissioner Don Garber "helped steer" new Fire Owner Joe Mansueto to buy up the remaining 51% stake in the club from Andrew Hauptman, according to Jeremy Mikula of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Mansueto, who purchased 49% of the Fire in '18, said Hauptman originally "didn’t want to sell the whole team, he wanted to sell 49%." Mansueto: "I had to make a decision: Do I want to buy 100% of a team maybe outside of Chicago or half of a team in my hometown? I opted for the latter and I’m really glad I did.” Mansueto said he “looked at a few other cities” for potential investment. But Garber said that the league has "seen success with two things: A downtown stadium and local ownership." In Chicago, that downtown stadium is "coming as the Fire edge closer to returning to Soldier Field" starting in '20, something Mansueto has "worked on since last year." On the potential rebrand of the club's name and crest, Mansueto said, "I love the name. To me the name has pretty deep meaning for Chicagoans that cuts to the core of the identity of this city" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/17).
FACILITY FOCUS: In Chicago, Brian Sandalow notes Mansueto is "focusing on making the game-day experience at Soldier Field as strong as possible." Finding a soccer-specific stadium "isn’t his priority." Mansueto said that he has "high hopes for the new home." He added, "I’d rather have more people exposed to the team than fewer.’’ The Fire’s local broadcasts have been "exclusively on ESPN+," but that deal "runs out" after the '20 season. Mansueto said that he "expects a lot of media outlets to bid for Fire games when it lapses" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/17). Mansueto said, "I would like to see the Fire more widely available to all Chicagoans either on free broadcast or cable to complement ESPN+. I think we've got a great product in the Fire, but more people need to see it. We need to expose them to it" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 9/16).