From a Sept. 1 press release:
A diverse investor group led by Laura Ricketts and prominent Chicago women business and civic leaders has officially taken ownership of the Chicago Red Stars National Women's Soccer League franchise in a deal valued at $60 million.
Ricketts, one of the first women and LGBTQ+ owners of a major U.S. professional sports franchise, is a minority owner of the Chicago Sky and co-owner of the Chicago Cubs. Ricketts is also co-founder and director of Beyond Barriers, the world's only career fitness platform that empowers professional women with strategies to become future-ready leaders.
"We wholeheartedly believe in and are excited about the future of the Red Stars and the NWSL," said Ricketts. "There is unprecedented fan growth in women's soccer globally, and we want to be a part of building on that momentum and success here in Chicago."
The new ownership group also includes: Angela E.L. Barnes, chief legal officer of IDEO [and co-owner of the queer Andersonville bar Nobody's Darling]; Traci P. Beck, M.D.; Debra Cafaro, chairman and CEO of Ventas, Inc. and partner in the Pittsburgh Penguins; Laura Desmond, chair and CEO of smartly.io; Sidney Dillard, investment banker and partner at Chicago's Loop Capital; Megan Murphy, owner, LaCrosse Milling Company; Editha Paras, non-profit executive; Col. Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), founder of the TAWANI Enterprises Inc.; strategic communications consultant Hilary Rosen;Jessica Droste Yagan, partner and CEO of Impact Engine; entrepreneur Tom O'Reilly; and the Engelhardt Family.
"Our respective backgrounds in professional sports, finance, turnaround management, commercial real estate, marketing and advertising, paired with our deep community ties, make for a powerful combination that will serve us well in reaching our ultimate goal: building a world-class championship organization on and off the pitch that sets the standard for excellence and accountability," said Ricketts.
"We will strive to provide an environment in which players thrive, supported by experienced executives who are dedicated to our athletes, our fans and the game," Ricketts continued.
Together, Ricketts and the co-investors are one of the most diverse ownership groups in professional sports.
"I am honored to be a part of this exceptional women-led ownership group for the Chicago Red Stars," said Colonel (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired). "I believe that each of the leaders involved will bring a powerful perspective that will both amplify and contribute to the team's success."
The NWSL has reported increases across the league in season ticket holders, corporate sponsorship and rising team values. Sponsorship in 2022 was up 87%. At the halfway mark of the 2023 season, attendance across the league was up 48% year-over-year, regular season match viewership was up 21%, and total unique viewership on Paramount+ was up 50%.
Now that the transaction has closed, Ricketts says her first priority is to meet with Red Stars players. "Building a championship culture begins with treating our players with the respect they deserve as women and athletes. We are committed to strengthening this team, this club, this league, and this game all of which begins with the safety of and support for the athletes on the pitch," she said.
Ricketts also says they will focus on improving player facilities and the fan experience. She added she looks forward to meeting with Red Stars associates and sharing her vision for building a first-class organization.
"To build the world-class organization that our fans deserve, we need to attract the world's best players, coaches, and staff, as well as create an environment that fosters their success. We're going to make that happen."
The Red Stars next home game is vs. Angel City FC on Sept. 17th at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. Tickets can be purchased at ChicagoRedStars.com