The Chicago Fire Soccer Club has a new owner in local businessman Joe Mansueto. The Executive Chairman of Morningstar, Inc., Mansueto took over sole ownership of the Club last week and is moving toward an agreement for the team to play its 2020 season at Soldier Field.
Get to know Mansueto as he sat down to discuss three wide-ranging topics during his first week as the Club's owner.
On why he invested in the Chicago Fire:
"I invested in the Club because I love soccer. I got interested in soccer through my kids. Unfortunately, I did not grow up playing soccer. Where I grew up in Indiana it was not offered; it was just football, basketball, baseball. No soccer option. But through my kids I developed a real love of the sport. They got involved in AYSO soccer, and I coached at the AYSO level a couple years. They went on to club soccer, and I got more interested in the sport. I think it's a great sport for kids to play growing up. Then I started to watch professionally and got deeper into the sport. Watching in Europe and MLS in the U.S. — just what a compelling experience that is for fans. It's 90 minutes of pure excitement. It fits into the modern lifestyle very well, whereas a lot of sports might be three or four hours of time. This is a very compact experience, and I think it's got great potential. If you look at soccer engagement in the U.S. versus the rest of the world, by every metric — engagement, viewership by fans — we lag the rest of the world. But I think over the coming decade, the U.S. is going to grow strongly and close that gap. So I think soccer has a great future in this country, and I'm just thrilled to be investing in the Chicago Fire."
On what it means to be a Chicagoan:
Mansueto: "I'm very proud to be a Chicagoan. If you look at the history of Chicago, Chicago was built after the Great Chicago Fire — hence the name of the team. The Chicago Fire in 1871, right before that St. Louis was a bigger city than Chicago. We have this great tragic event but we didn't pick up and leave. We decided to rebuild, and rebuild in a bigger, bolder way. So the Burnham Plan and the Lakefront — and building a great city, one of the world's greatest cities over the next century. It's that spirit that to me is what being a Chicagoan is all about. That spirit of pushing through adversity to build something great, never giving up, pushing to make things better, and being a world-caliber city."
On his vision for the Club:
Mansueto: "The vision of the Club is threefold. Number one, we need to win championships. Sports is very black and white that way. We need to win some MLS Cups, Supporters' Shields, Open Cups — we need to be champions. Secondly, supporting that, we need to have a world-class soccer organization. So every aspect of the game from player analytics, scouting, front office, all the technical sporting side, and field the very best team we can. And then thirdly, to really deeply engage with all of Chicago. Get out to the neighborhoods, promote soccer, create more Chicago Fire fans, and be a key part of the fabric of this city."