Joe Mansueto, founder of investment management firm Morningstar, has bought a 49 per cent stake in Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise the Chicago Fire.
Mansueto, 61, has purchased his interest from Andrew Hauptman, who has owned the team since 2007. Hauptman will continue in his role as chairman of the franchise’s controlling shareholder, while also sitting as the Fire’s representative on the MLS Board of Governors.
The financial details of the deal have not been disclosed, but in the Fire Mansueto is buying into a franchise valued in 2017 by Forbes at US$240 million. Hauptman paid an estimated US$35 million for the franchise in 2007.
In a statement, Hauptman said: “It's hard to imagine a better partner for me and our club than Joe. 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 added: “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. I'm incredibly excited to partner with him to build on the club's achievements.”
Mansueto, personally worth an estimated US$3.4 billion, founded investment research firm Morningstar in 1984 but stepped down as chief executive in 2017.
He joins the Chicago franchise at a crucial juncture for the MLS side. Despite the high-profile signing of German World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger last year, only Columbus Crew have seen lower attendance records at their home stadiums this season than the 14,154 averaged by Chicago.