Team(s) owned / ownership stake: Chicago Fire Soccer Club | majority
Other businesses / titles: Chairman, Andell Inc.
How did you come to own a sports team?
Owning a sports team was never on my bucket list, but after having been approached, I had a close look at MLS and found the growth potential compelling on so many levels. I was attracted to how the league was set up and the opportunity to really build something special in the U.S. and specifically in Chicago, which is a unique sports town. I also knew I’d be joining an exceptional group of existing owners who all share the same desire to advance the passion for soccer in smart and savvy ways.
Is it an investment or more of a hobby?
It’s an investment and a passion. I grew up playing soccer competitively and love the sport. When I lived in the UK for more than a decade, football (what they call soccer across the pond) was a big part of my life there. Though I oversee a significant portfolio of companies and investments, there aren’t many that I can say I’m passionate about the way I am about the Fire. As much as I approach this as an investment, there is a certain kind of magic to working on something that you – and the team’s supporters – care deeply about.
Is it a good investment?
Like many of our holdings, I always viewed this as a long-term investment and commitment. The league and the Fire are on a high-growth trajectory and club valuations will continue to rise given the rapidly expanding soccer market across the U.S. I’ve continued to invest significantly and cover operating losses as well as pour my heart and soul into the club.
Other than winning, what’s the best thing about owning part of a sports team?
The best part for me and what drives me is knowing that I’m part of a club that has the ability to connect people together and make a meaningful difference in people’s lives – a real community. Soccer runs deep for me and for our supporters in a way that’s unique in sports culture. At the Fire, we feel the responsibility to give back as much support to the community we serve as fans give to the team.
What’s the worst thing (besides losing)?
As a fan, nothing is worse than losing. As an owner, nothing is worse than losing.
How many games a season do you attend?
I try to attend as many as possible. With Andell’s offices in L.A., it’s hard for me to get to Chicago as often as I’d like. I also have two children who will be in college before I know it, so my priority is to be at home with them while they still want to hang out with Ellen, my wife, and me.
What was your favorite team when you were growing up?
The N.Y. Islanders in the early ’80s was, unquestionably, one of the greatest teams in all of sports. My dad, now a retired doctor, had two season tickets to the Islanders for a decade. During those years – known as the Dynasty because the team won four Stanley Cups in a row – I would watch those epic games on my dad’s lap at the Nassau Coliseum, with my brother taking the other seat. Experiencing those championship games with my dad and brother are some of my greatest memories.
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