Laura Ricketts and her investor group officially purchased the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars in a $60 million deal.
The Chicago Cubs co-owner, who is also a minority owner of the Chicago Sky, said in August that she is “honored” to lead a group of women investors in the effort to purchase the NWSL club, which were put up for sale by Arnim Whisler in the aftermath of the league’s abuse scandal.
As part of the sale, $35.5 million will go to the previous owners, and $25.5 million will be invested in the Red Stars.
Ricketts’ group also includes Angela Barnes, chief legal officer of IDEO; Debra Cafaro, chairman and CEO of Ventas and a partner in the Pittsburgh Penguins ownership group; Jessica Droste Yagan, CEO of Impact Engine; Jennifer Pritzker, president and CEO of TAWANI Enterprises; and Sidney Dillard, a partner at Chicago’s Loop Capital.
“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 championship organization on and off the pitch,” Ricketts said in a release in August.
“Building a championship culture begins with treating our players with the respect they deserve as women and athletes,” Ricketts continued. “We look forward to completing this transaction so that we can begin this new chapter for the team and the fans.”
As a co-owner of the MLB’s Cubs, Ricketts is one of the first women and LGBTQ+ owners of a major U.S. men’s professional sports franchise.
The deal received final approval from the NWSL’s Board of Governors, ending eight months in limbo for the Red Stars, which have been up for sale since December. Whisler committed to selling the club following criticism from players and fans for his involvement in the NWSL abuse scandal, with the pressure mounting following the release of the Sally Yates report last October.
Red Stars players released a statement together on Oct. 10, 2022, encouraging Whisler to sell the club, writing that they “look forward to finding a new majority owner who can help us realize the full potential that we as players always knew existed for this club.”
While the Red Stars made a run to the NWSL championship match in 2021, the team sits in last place in the 12-team league with five games remaining in the 2023 regular season.
The NWSL issued a statement about the sale in August ahead of the final approval, referring to the investors in the Ricketts group as “exceptional leaders.”
“Laura Ricketts and the proposed new ownership group are exceptional leaders and we’re pleased with the progress that has been made. A final sale will require the approval of the NWSL Board of Governors, and we’ll have more to say if and when that occurs,” the league said.