The Chicago Fire now have a new owner as they aim to play at Soldier Field next year.
Longtime owner Andrew Hauptmen announced Friday that he sold his controlling interest in the club to Joe Manseuto, the executive chairman of Morningstar. The switch is effective immediately, the team said.
“What the Fire has achieved has been transformational for the Club and the city of Chicago. We’ve significantly increased soccer’s presence and built an ecosystem that rivals any club across North America,” Hauptman said in a statement. “I’m extremely proud of the positioning of the Club at this historic juncture. I know that the next step of returning to Soldier Field will make Chicago proud and I look forward to cheering on Joe, the Club and its supporters as they continue this legacy.”
The soccer club previously announced it had reached a deal with Bridgeview allowing the team to play home games and "conduct team operations" outside of SeatGeek Stadium.
In a letter to fans, President and General Manager Nelson Rodriguez and COO John Urban wrote that the team would "explore playing in downtown Chicago as early as next season."
The Chicago Tribune reports that on Wednesday the Chicago Park District voted to continue negotiations and enter a permit and operating agreement for the team to use Soldier Field as its stadium in the 2020 MLS season.
“I joined Andrew as a partner because he developed a tremendous platform for continued soccer growth across Chicago and beyond. He and the entire organization have worked tirelessly to dramatically increase the profile of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, MLS and the game overall and have left a wonderful legacy for our city,” Mansueto said in a statement. “The timing of this transaction couldn’t be better as we return the world’s game to the city I love. Andrew and his family will always be part of the Fire family that he cares so very much about.”