A diverse group of Chicago women are negotiating to purchase the Chicago Red Stars
The GIST: The NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars may be entering a new galaxy. According to a press release yesterday, a “diverse group of Chicago women business and civic leaders” has negotiated a deal to buy the team from its current owners.
The details: Led by Cubs co-owner and Sky minority owner Laura Ricketts, the group has reached an agreement to purchase the club from majority owner Arnim Whisler, pending approval from the NWSL’s board of governors. Specifics of the deal are currently unknown, but the sale would reportedly value the club at up to $35.5M.
The background: For Chicago fans, loving the Stars recently has been red. Last fall, fans called for Whisler to sell the team after reports of abusive behavior emerged. He eventually began the process in December, but with no reports of a buyer. Now, the team will upgrade to an ownership group of women and a much-needed fresh start. Win-win!
- Additionally, the Red Stars’ current home venue is not in Chicago proper and lack of public transportation limits access for fans (especially younger ones), which has forced a slew of Chicago teams to relocate from SeatGeek Stadium. Perhaps Ricketts’ connections to other local teams can help the club find a new home…
The trend: Early last year, the Washington Spirit sold for a record $35M, and in April 2021, highly-anticipated new club Angel City FC posted a valuation of $115M before the club had even signed its first player. Jaw? Dropped.
- And after opening up majority stakes earlier this summer, the WNBA’s Chicago Sky was valued at $85M — the second-highest known valuation in the league.
Zooming out: As women’s sports teams continue to sell at record price points, their investment opportunities are becoming too tempting to pass on. Furthermore, the metrics used to determine teams’ valuations — like revenue and audience growth — are continuing to skyrocket.
- For example, NWSL attendance was reportedly up 48% and CBS viewership increased 21% YoY this June, while the WNBA is projecting $200M in revenue for 2023, building off last year ’s record-breaking season. With new owners and fresh investment, the Red Stars should be poised to mirror the success of its league and women’s sports as a whole.