Wilt to leave Indy Eleven - One step closer to NASL in Chicago

Peter Wilt's exit from Indy Eleven became official today. The club announced its President and General Manager was departing in order to pursue the creation of an NASL club in Chicago. As first reported here last April, NASL has been working to land a club in Chicago for some time. Empire of Soccer identified Wilt and ownership group Club 9 Sports in October and today's news confirms that the Fire will have some competition for the pro soccer dollar soon.

The popular and still revered former Fire General Manager is partnering at Club 9 with Jack Cummins, who he also worked with in launching the Chicago Red Stars, in efforts to bring NASL here. There are still details to work through, including a home stadium site within City limits, but the goal has always been to announce an expansion team early this year and begin play in the summer of 2017.

Wilt will continue his General Manager duties as a consultant with Indy Eleven for the time being although the club has not set a timetable for his complete separation.

“CLUB 9 SPORTS has been working diligently to assemble a quality investor group on behalf of Jack Cummins and me," said Wilt via a press release. "In order to make this a reality, we now need to secure a proper venue and importantly, we need to work with the soccer community to add a public supporters component to the investor group. We look forward to working with the soccer, civic and business communities to make the connections that will truly make this Chicago’s team.”

Wilt's involvement, along with the potential return of the "Chicago Sting" name should drum up some interest, along with planting a sense of urgency on the MLS side of pro soccer here.

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  • I certainly hope the Sting does not plant a sense of urgency. This whole thing is pie in the sky, thinking that they could have even half the success of the Fire is ridiculous. Any sense of urgency will evaporate when they're playing at a high school stadium.

  • In reply to iron81:

    Thinking that Andy could have half the success in professional sports that Peter Wilt has had is ridiculous.

  • The sense of urgency will come if the Sting are able set up a meaningful supporters ownership structure, & actually spend on a better on the field product than Indy ever mustered. Because proximity & a direct stake in a team will be a potent marketing formula if the ownership opens up the pocketbooks on salary. Those are a lot of maybes that haven't been done yet in any US league. If they accomplish what their goal is then a high school field would only be a stepping stone. Still a long way from reality though.

  • In reply to ArchiJake:

    This is a well measured take on things.

    The only reason I can see this becoming urgent is if it becomes a proxy for the MLS vs NASL debate the NASL desperately wants to start (apparently). There is no doubt Chicago is the most accessible major city with a floundering MLS team that the NASL could try to compete with. That said, the NASL is a bit of a laugh compared to MLS so I can't really see that happening. And even if it does it wouldn't come for at least a handful of years away, by which time who knows what condition the slightly vulnerable Fire fanbase that NASL wants to poach will be in.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    Valid points. NASL will continue to have a minor league connotation to it.

    The urgency is more in reference to righting the ship in the face of losing even more fans who will now have an option. The Fire can't afford to lose even a few hundred at this point. Another year like the last two with, pardon the expression - Sting buzz for 2017 is something they should want to avoid.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Well, let me help y'all out here. Former Fire season ticket holder, who will not be spending another penny or moment of attention on the Fire. It has been clear for some time, and the point hammered home in the past week, that Hauptmann is attempting his own "Major League" plan in the face of [speculating] dissent among the other league owners for transforming what was a former flagship team in the 3rd largest U.S. market, to a joke that threatens to replace Chivas USA as the league's greatest embarrassment.

    Here are three season tickets that will go to both the NASL franchise and the Red Stars, and not one cent to the Fire until Hauptmann is out.

  • The formation of a NASL team potentially playing inside city limits will quickly put the "Fire play too far outside downtown" argument to the test.

  • Hauptman's complete mismanagement and childish ownership has made this a reality. Competition is a good thing.

  • Hearing that the Fire have at least one offer on the table for the number one pick and several other teams are interested.

    There could be a deal for the #1 overall pick.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Do you have any details of said offer?

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    How much of a hit would the #1 pick's trade value take if we could package our owner with it?

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    If they do trade we will see how shrewd the new regime is. I do hope they realize how important it is to make a good first impression here to begin to restore the faith with the fan base.They need to hit a home run right away. Another season like last year will be disastrous.

  • When I was a kid we had Sting season tickets forever, both outdoor and indoor, got to know some of the players personally. I look forward to the rebirth, even though its not MLS quality.
    Have been a Fire fan from the start, remember taking Dad to Soldier Field for innagural game, both of us happy to again have professional soccer in our hometown after all those years
    But the last several years have been garbage. Ever since 2009 playoffs. One PK away from going to MLS Cup. Then the organization decides reaching the semis is not good enough and its time to fire Hamlet and rebuild. Well we have been hiring/firing coaches and rebuilding for 6 freakin' years!
    Now we have a rookie coach and new GM. NO veteran leadership on the roster. Hey, I love the youth movement and homegrown player approach, I really do, it is vital to US soccer that our kids can be brought up in the system and play at the top level, but you gotta keep someone whos been around the block a few times. Year after year the organization is treating this like an expansion team rather than a club going on 20 years membership!
    I may only be a lifelong player, a former high school coach, a licensed club coach and certified ref, but I know poor soccer when I see it, and over the last 6 years thats all this club has been able to produce with poor coaching, poor tactics, poor player acquisition and poor positioning.
    Fire gets one more year to make things right (going .500 will be a good start), then if the Sting are around they will get my fan $$s, if not we will go to college games, and with MLS Direct Kick every Saturday night we can watch good teams who are part of an MLS organization that knows what they are doing. Fire take note, the Wolves were drawing 10K plus in Rosemont before the Hawks got their act together.

  • "we need to work with the soccer community to add a public supporters component to the investor group"

    Interesting. Nothing like the strategy of the AH/AK regime.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    You're detecting the distinction between a successful soccer organization which must produce a winning team and a successful business venture which must extract the maximum dollars and cents from your pocket.

  • Indy Eleven has signed former Fire defender Lovel Palmer.

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