Fire sale? - at least three groups interested

As the Fire wind down another disappointing year this offseason may prove to be very interesting on and off the pitch. Not only does the club need to make smart use of the mounds of General Allocation and Targeted Allocation Money that they have amassed over the last two seasons, they must move toward repairing the perception that they themselves have perpetuated as an organization not seriously looking to compete with other big market clubs in MLS.

Part of the reluctance to dip into the fray for high-priced "star" players over the last seven years is in part due to the lack of control and financial windfall that stems from the anchor of the lease agreement at Toyota Park with the Village of Bridgeview. The 30 year lease agreement was signed in 2005 and agreed to by the Village, Major League Soccer, and then Fire owners Anschutz Chicago Soccer, a division of AEG.

In order to get a stadium built in the Chicago area 11 years ago, MLS agreed to a series of terms that would ultimately be seen as a crutch for the "operator" - who did not reap all of the benefits that professional sports teams get today in sweetheart deals with municipalities eager for a major league tenant. Among those terms that are:

  • The Fire pay an annual Facility Fee originally set at $300,000.00 that increases at 2% every year. They also cover event expenses for each use of the facility.
  • Naming rights are owned by the Village, along with marketing and advertising rights for the stadium. The team does however retain subsidiary naming rights for areas within the stadium. Incidentally, Toyota's 10-year naming rights deal expired earlier this year although the name "Toyota Park" is still in use on a temporary basis. Toyota has already begun removing branding in the stadium throughout the course of this season. Sources indicate that if another sponsor is not found or Toyota finally decides to remove all of their branding, the facility will be renamed "Bridgeview Stadium".
  • The Fire have to reimburse the Village for any home games held outside of the facility. International friendlies included.
  • No MLS team can play in the Chicago market area in any stadium other than Toyota Park, even if the Fire cease operations.
  • The maintenance of the field is the responsibility of the Village. A bitter battle over the condition of the field has been fought over the last several years but Bridgeview has remedied the problem with the hiring of a new maintenance team. The Fire had been using this avenue as a potential "out" of the lease for breach of contract terms. More on this later.
  • The team is responsible for reimbursing the Village for use of ancillary facilities, including the main field for practice sessions.
  • Concessions and box office are controlled by the Village, although there are shared revenues.
  • Shared revenues include: Team at 92% of gross ticket revenue; 50% split of net parking and net concession revenue; Team receives 30% net license, net event suite revenue, and net sponsorship revenue.
  • Team receives 22.5% of gross merchandise revenue.
  • The turf practice facility is technically owned by the Village of Bridgeview. Former Fire Director of Player Development John Dorn financed a good deal of its construction with his own funds.

The condition of the playing surface at Toyota Park ,which used to boast one of the better fields in MLS deteriorated to the point where Frank Yallop publicly decried its poor maintenance on more than one occasion, perhaps as a not so veiled attempt to make the team's unhappiness well known in building an argument for an exit. The Fire also actively encouraged visiting teams to file complaints in written reports to MLS about the condition of the pitch. Players also voiced displeasure.

Andell Inc.'s President and Chief Operating Officer, Kashif Shiekh who sources indicate has played a substantial role in controlling budgetary issues for the company, which includes involvement with the Fire, began searching at least over one year ago for potential alternate stadium sites within Chicago city limits should a break from Bridgeview occur. At least two potential sites have been explored, one near the Bridgeport area with access to the Dan Ryan Expressway and another in the Hyde Park area. Peter Wilt's future Chicago NASL team has also been researching potential stadium sites in the City, but it would seem that getting another stadium built in the current political climate will still be extremely difficult. It's also important to note that the Chicago political machine had little to no interest in helping to build a soccer stadium in 2005, hence the acceptance of the Bridgeview proposal by MLS and the Fire.

Shiekh's name has surfaced again more recently with regard to taking a more active role and involvement with the Fire. General Manager Nelson Rodriguez recently indicated that Andrew Hauptman and Andell have committed the resources to adding high-level impact talent during the coming January window but the proof will be in accomplishment. The sums of MLS "funny money" that has been accrued will certainly help massage the restrictive league salary budget enabling him to fill spots with potentially higher quality players but the real test of commitment will come if and when the Fire are able to land a player that the team can truly rely upon as a cornerstone of a winning side. The Fire had a player of that stature in place in the person of Cuauhtemoc Blanco when Hauptman and Andell purchased the team in 2007 for a reported $35 million dollars but have not had one since. The cost of a player of that magnitude today will be considerably more than the $2.7 million annual contract that Blanco signed in 2007 however. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the Fire have not been as successful on the pitch or in drawing interest to the team and Toyota Park since Blanco's departure following the 2009 season.

The addition of more clubs to MLS within the next few years and the escalating expansion fees for new entries, which have been speculated to now reach the $200m mark have led some to argue that now may be the time for Andell to cut bait and get as much of a return on investment as possible.

Should Andell decide to pursue a sale of the team and attempt to capitalize on the skyrocketing value of MLS franchises, Fire Confidential has learned that there are at least three potential ownership groups that have shown interest in a purchase. While no deals appear to be close at the moment, the mention of the potential buyers among well placed sources indicates that the possibility does at least exist.

The three current potential groups include:

Richard Levy - A local entrepreneur with a Chicago Kent Law degree who is the CEO and Founder of Victory Park Capital, the company which owns the Giordano's pizza company. Originally from South Africa, he has been active in the Chicago area for years. Along with real estate investor Jared Schenk, he was one of the original minority partners/owners of the Private Bank Fire Pitch. Victory Park Capital, a private-equity firm with $2.25 billion in assets, invests in distressed businesses. He and Schenk are also listed as Board Members of Chicago Fire Juniors City youth club in publicly available tax returns.

Majeed Ekbal - A real estate developer currently living in Chicago. Ekbal has a history of well publicized issues that could be of concern to MLS. Started working in the Chicago area in the early 90's owning Expresso, Inc,. a company which bought and delivered groceries to customers locally. He also works as a marketing and advertising executive in Chicago. Apparently played Division 1 college soccer at American University in the 1980's. Note: the suit against Ekbal has been settled.

Bridgeview Group - The Village of Bridgeview has maintained an icy relationship with the Fire and that doesn't seem to be on the road to repair any time soon. The Village is planning improvements to the area surrounding Toyota Park and those plans do not include the Fire. According to sources, a group of investors that includes owners of the NBA's Sacramento Kings have expressed an interest in making a move. This group consists of several individuals who are prepared to make a bigger push in the coming months. Members of this group organized the recently held Open Air concert event at Toyota Park.

Any potential new owner will need to explore the continued viability of playing in Toyota Park, although the 2007-2009 seasons provide proof that supporters will find their way to Bridgeview and fill it enthusiastically if a good team is on the field. Weighing the possibility of adding a multi-million dollar buy-out clause on top of the acquisition fee will certainly be a major sticking point of any future sale.

No concrete timelines have apparently been set for any deal to be finalized since discussions appear to be in the very early stages but it does make for a more interesting offseason. Some Fire insiders insist that offers are fairly commonplace and Andell has no intention to sell. The January window could be very telling.

 

Filed under: 2016 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • It's a mistake to think there was a dramatic difference in the Blanco era crowds compared to now. Sellouts were not frequent then either and the average attendance is similar, though a little higher then.

    It's not surprising that there are people interested in buying the Fire, we have a great organization with a lot of assets worth having including the stadium lease, players, staff and fans. Unfortunately for the enemies of the Fire, Hauptman is unlikely to sell at any price that an investor would be willing to pay. This is because of Hauptman's deep emotional bond with the Fire and his desire to win MLS Cup, and perhaps lift it himself. That day is ahead of us, and I look forward to it.

  • In reply to iron81:

    Huh?

  • In reply to iron81:

    This post has to be a joke...including the attendance difference, thinking the crowds/atmosphere is the same as the Blanco era is just as crazy as thinking AH is motivated by anything other than profit

  • In reply to iron81:

    Shut up Don

  • In reply to Woody112307:

    The Second Amendment people may be able to do something about the enemies of the Fire, I don't know.

  • In reply to iron81:

    You don't know shit. When you're done sucking off the Hauptman's balls, kindly fuck off.

  • In reply to iron81:

    This coming from a guy who deleted his tweet saying that in terms of the Fire, Andrew is God.

    Get some help man.

  • An interesting character in this saga is Village of Bridgeview Mayor and Illinois state Senator Steven Landek. He's going to extract his pound of flesh, one way or another.

    Ironically, the original deal, as outlined above, is so heavily leveraged in the Village's favor that it proved to be counterproductive. Moreover, it's curious that Anschutz entered into the terribly one-sided deal with the Village, only to turn around and sell the franchise relatively quickly thereafter, thereby laying a turd in Andell's lap. That said, caveat emptor.

    We have to assume Andell knew what it was buying. And if it did, it's fair to argue that Andell's position all along regarding the asset was to hold, with minimal spend, and then sell for a handsome ROI. Interestingly enough, as mentioned above, the cost of an MLS franchise has inflated at a staggering rate, perhaps more quickly than most of us imagined possible, say, four years ago.

    So now, given Andell's presumed strategy from day one, there is indeed hope for a sale, and sooner than most Fire fans ever imagined possible even mere weeks ago.

  • In reply to Bogdan:

    I wouldn't call the deal heavily in Bridgeview's favor because they are losing a lot of money on the stadium too, to the point that they had to raise taxes a lot to cover the stadium losses and I think the interest on the debt they took out is piling up faster than they can pay it off. There just isn't enough revenue to support everything.

  • In reply to iron81:

    Don, IF Andy DID sell his ownership and divest himself of the team, would you still support the Fire?

  • I've always wondered if the stadium deal was one of the reasons they fired Peter Wilt. I guess that is something that we will probably never know.

    As far as the attendance Don, I'm not sure if your memory is that poor, but back in the Blanco era, and even a couple years after, we averaged mid 18k or more in the summers and fall. It's pretty disingenuous to say that the crowds weren't that much bigger then they are now - they were. When was the last time they put the bleachers up on the stage? I remember that being done during the playoffs and at least a couple of times in the regular season. I haven't seen them in years. I've always thought that if the product on the field was compelling, people would come. They did in the past, they will again.

    Guillermo - I'd be curious. Out of the three groups, none of them really stand out to me as something that I would get overly excited about. Do any stand out to you? I'd hate for everyone to get excited if this is only the case of the devil we know is better than the devil we don't know.

  • In reply to PadreJoe:

    And we averaged 10k in the spring. The yearly average now is maybe 1,000 less than it was then.

  • In reply to iron81:

    1,000 less = HORRIBLE with MLS growing.

    More stars (Giovinco, Keane, Dos Santos, Kaka, Lampard, Drogba, Gerrard, etc, etc) all across the league. The league is STAR-STUDDED!

    Lower attendance in 2016 - SAD!

  • In reply to Modibo:

    90% of that growth was from teams that entered the league after the Fire. Attendance for any particular team tends to remain steady over time, there has been no dramatic trend of increasing attendance for specific teams.

  • In reply to iron81:

    NO! WRONG!
    If you take the teams that were in the league in 2004 and still around in 2015, average the three years before Hauptman's purchase ('04, '05, '06) to allow for season-to-season variations, and compare them to the three year averages from 2013-2015, there was an average increase in attendance of 2,093. Only three teams saw lower attendance: Chicago, DC, and LA.
    CHI -398
    COL 1097
    CLB 2288
    DAL 4342
    DCU -1742
    LA -675
    NYRB 3899
    KC 7936
    AVERAGE 2093
    Several teams invested in new stadia during that time (KC, NYRB, COL) and saw significant increases in attendance. The Fire's attendance in 2006, when they moved into TP (14,111), actually makes the difference between the two eras seem less stark. If we choose to include teams like RSL and Houston, the average increase is even greater - more like 2900.
    LOWER ATTENDANCE AS LEAGUE IMPROVES - SAD!!!

  • In reply to iron81:

    For me the best telling barometer of how mush less attendance there is now than in the blanco era (empty stadium aside) is that you used to find people scalping tickets every game. There were people also willing to buy them. Now, there arent enough people coming to even bother to try to sell an extra ticket at the gate. Opening game always sold out then to. I've always been one to buy a cheaper seat in hopes to find one closer that I can just move to. It was common then to not be able to find a seat to much better then the one I purchased. Now, I sit anywhere I want. When I have to actually sit in my sth seat again, then we will be at the same attendance level ad during the Blanco era.

  • In reply to edubs:

    No disrespect, but the best barometer of attendance figures is... attendance figures.
    (year: reg season/playoffs)
    2007: 16,490/17,834
    2008: 17,034/17,312
    2009: 14,689/21,626
    2010: 15,814/missed playoffs
    2011: 14,553/missed playoffs
    2012: 16,407/10,923
    2013: 15,228/missed playoffs
    2014: 16,076/missed playoffs
    2015: 16,003/missed playoffs
    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Fire_Soccer_Club#Average_attendance

    Avg 2007-09: 16,071
    Avg since: 15,680

    I'm actually pretty surprised at these numbers. And there are definitely other things that may skew them that I don't know about, like large double-headers that pull the averages up.

    Another thing worth noting is the playoff attendance figures. The playoff attendance figures since 2010 are... hold on... still calculating... just a sec...

  • In reply to manyou07:

    Understand that MLS "attendance" is actually tickets distributed. What matters is entries. It's evident to fans who've been attending Fire matches in Bridgeview from day one that actual attendance (entries) has trended downward, especially the past 3-4 seasons.

  • In reply to Bogdan:

    yes

  • In reply to manyou07:

    There is also interest, exposure, coverage, etc that hasn't been there since 2009 which doesn't reflect in those numbers.

    The biggest screw-up following 2009 was not building on that excitement and 21K average attendance in the playoffs. The 2010 season was disastrous in all phases and just about ruined the work done to build to that point.

  • In reply to PadreJoe:

    It's still a bit early to say. There are other groups that appear to be interested as well.

  • In reply to PadreJoe:

    I have the same question about Peter Wilt. I am a fan of NASL expansion in Chicago, but I remember at the time thinking how stupid it was for the team to move from the city to such a poor suburban location.

    I assumed at the time that it was because Bridgeview gave them a killer deal. But it appears that it is actually quite lame when compared to other sporting franchises in the country. Of course as someone else mentioned, the Village of Bridgeview has also suffered because of the deal.

    Lose-lose all around. And the single-entity element of no competition makes the league structure to continue to look idiotic.

    I do find it ironic that I am hoping for Wilt's new plan to bring soccer to the city if, indeed, he helped set in motion the demise of the Fire by acquiescing to the Bridgeview deal.

    At this point I'm so agnostic about the team that I don't really care what happens. My only interest in the club now is to check in here to Guillermo's stellar reporting to watch the trainwreck.

    Excuse me while I go get ready for the European season.

    ps: Great reporting, Guillermo

  • Honestly, I don't care who the next owner is as long as the new owner is not investing in order to ride the value of the league up but rather invest in the team so it will be successful regardless of the league's overall value. Andell is a private equity firm managing inherited money. Richard Levy manages investor/client money so he has to perform or they will pull out. He is local (now) and seems to have passion outside of Victory Park Capital. Being from South Africa, he probably likes Rugby too which would be fun to see international games at TP. I would not mind having Giordano's pizza at TP. That being said, if the Bridgeview Group has a lot of investors besides the Kings' ownership, I would be fine with them as well. Ekbal seems very shaky based on the article.

  • If you're trying to maximize the value of the club for a sale, wouldn't it make more sense to wait a couple years until expansion has levelled out? AIUI, the Fire now are perhaps worth a bit less than the expansion fee, plus without costs for a new park, if the new owner would want to stay in Bridgeview. It seems to me a good opportunity to buy into the league in a big market without as many startup costs, although certainly there'd be a lot of changes need to improve the on field product.

    If the expansion fee is, say, around $200 million (a guess) now for a new team, won't existing teams be worth even more once expansion stops in a few years (and it will stop... right?). Or am I not looking at that right?

    That said, I don't know that an MLS team really makes sense as something you'd purchase to make money. The financials of the league still seem quite... murky.

  • In reply to aaronsinger:

    Reports say the current expansion fee is 200m. I've also seen articles where they believe expansion will go on for at least the next decade which sounds to me like a conservative estimate. The league is adding 4 more teams over the next what? 4 years? 2 next year, lafc the year after? Is there an expansion date yet for miami? They have also announced already that they are going to 28 teams, so that's anothe 2 to 4 years of expansion right there. Once they sign those teams, I'm betting there will be at least 1 more round of expansion to at least 32 teams. I'm guessing expansion doesn't stop before 2030. I'm hoping hauptman doesn't want to let his investment mature that long.

  • If someone else takes the reins of this Club, please PLEASE do not change the Badge. We'll f'n hang you for it.

  • Well done, Guillermo.

    #hauptmanout

  • I know many have an issue with Toyota Park. No public trans, etc. At the same time it is a decent soccer venue. I have sat all over the stadium, never a bad view, never far from restrooms or concessions, never too hard a time getting out of the lot ( I am a bit pi$$ed that only season ticket holders allowed in the west lot, that was the fastest in and out) and the pitch is finally back to what it once was. My question is if not TP, than where? That much land on the city north side or N/NW suburbs is not $$ feasible. The Fire turf facility would have needed to be 4x as large with parking. City west or south sides? Good luck getting the family draw to go there ( and dont say what about United Center? that area has radically changed and the Fire couldnt afford it now either). Personally I would have liked to see them go to Rosemont, close to Kennedy, blue line and Metra. But once they put a decent product back on the field I will again happily make the drive to TP.

  • In reply to Fireman1:

    I agree with respect to TP as a facility. My only complaint is that at half-time, it is impossible to go from the West side to the East side. I used to fight that battle when you coud get Blue Moon on the East side only. Now that they sell Green Line on the West side, I don't need to "travel" any further. The location totally sucks though. Getting to TP from the Northside is nightmare on weeknights. The best location would have been somewhere centrally located where public transportation was feasible to reduce the need for huge parking lots. Anywhere along a train or CTA line would have been fine. Again, once you are inside TP, I personally think it is terrific. I have not been to many other stadiums, but TP's sight lines far exceed the other and closeness to the field is better than most. Call me an idiot, but if it were possible I would have built TP near UIC along the Pink line.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I remember when one could get a Leinies's. Now if they only could get Two Brothers,,,,Anyway I have been to couple other MLS venues. Columbus couple times about 10 yrs ago as part of public safety tourneys where our final was played on the field before the pros (that field is every inch of 120x75). Found the stadium to be "cold", generic, sanitary, just boring. Also a pain to get to and no real neighborhood atmosphere much like TP. Other was Portland last summer, part of couple days in OR on a PacNW excursion. Always wanted to see a game there and luck had it Fire were in town when we where.. That stadium, atmosphere, crowd, and surrounding area are AWESOME! Even my family in their Fire gear were welcomed and met some nice locals, the prob took pity on us. Every MLS fan should see a game there if they can, only prob is they sell out every home match so tickets are at a premium even months before gameday

  • In reply to Fireman1:

    I met some friends from California for long weekend in Portland last summer and we made a PTFC match part of the itinerary. All I can say is WOW! Blew the doors off anything I've experienced at TP including games like the LAG Fire match with Blanco and Beckham and possibly the playoff match against RSL. We took easy and accessible public trans downtown, had a beer and meal before the match at a local pub, walked to the stadium, and watched a good match (despite the turf) in an incredible atmosphere.

    It seems like the sentiments are clear: TP is a nice stadium once you get there, but all party's involved - team, Bridgeview, and fans - are screwed for the foreseeable future with the location, stadium deal, and suspect ownership. Maybe St. Louis will eventually get a team and I can take the (ahem) proposed high speed train there and watch them. The travel time will be similar.

  • In reply to Fireman1:

    They should go to the suburbs, like Schaumburg where many tournaments are held and they could get the families and youth teams involved.

    Can understand though now why they don't spend more, because they don't have the revenue.. 22% of your own merchandise, and renting your practice fields? Good grief, what a mess.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    I agree they should have considered the burbs, maybe not as far as Naperville like the nomad years, but definitely The NW or W suburbs that have TONS of youth clubs they could have brought in. They could have had a situation where they had the stadium, grass practice field and several turf fields that could be domed all in one location. Could have put a ton of youth soccer there then and sweetened the fan base by being a part of the youth socccer community. Been heavily involved in youth soccer for years now, still havent run across any club from Bridgeview, and the Fire Jrs are paying a hefty sum to use the new turf facilities

  • In reply to Fireman1:

    Hanover park was one of the final locations. I don't know what happened or why the went with bridgeview, but if I remember correctly, the site would have been near the metra. Also the community center is near by where I grew up playing soccer. It's a much nicer area than bridgeview. Don't know why it didn't get selected.

  • Khosla is an asshat.

  • GR, do you have any info on the net worth of any of the potential buyers? MLS wants to attract only the richest of the rich. That has become the top criterion for ownership in MLS.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    I do not.

  • fb_avatar

    Well written and great research to put out an article like this! AK's twitter response was just shameful. I have a couple questions about the stadium lease, as for some delusional reason I thought it was up in like 2020...so now I am pretty depressed. Do you see any real ways for current or future organizations to get out through a loop hole or other breach of contract? I was also a little confused on the info about the bridgeview group. You mentioned that they were cleaning up the area and the fire were not in their plans, so if they bought them, they would move them? I didnt quite get the scenario there and with the mentioned Sacramento Kings ownership. Would greatly appreciate it if you could expand on this group/potential scenario. Thanks again for this an all other reports.

  • In reply to Carl Miller:

    The way out of the stadium lease would likely include some sort of financial agreement with Landek and the Village to buy-out the lease if it were to get to that point. Money is the solution.

    I don't have any indication that they would be moved as of yet. I also haven't heard one thing about a relocation or rebrand as some have suggested. The Kings people are apparently part of a group of potential investors. That group seems to be willing to work with Village to work out improved terms.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Thanks for the further info, i think I got it now : )

  • Not mentioned in the article, and unlikely to be mentioned in any article, are the salacious details surrounding Andrew Hauptman being stripped of his power and duties vis a vis the Fire. A noted philanderer, it seems Hauptman's father-in-law and brothers-in-law (the Bronfmans) had had enough. After Hauptman disrespected his wife, and their daughter and sister, respectively, the Bronfmans (the actual power and money behind Andell Holdings) took away Hauptman's key to the playroom, so to speak.

    The aforementioned family drama led to the Bronfmans putting Andell shadowman Kashif Shiekh (mentioned in the article) in charge of the Fire. Kash, as he's known, was tasked by the Bronfmans to stop the bleeding and attempt to recoup value lost over the years due to Hauptman's mismanagement of the franchise.

    Enter noted MLS fixer Nelson Rodriguez. It is no coincidence that we have heard nothing from Hauptman since the hiring of Rodriguez, who has been tasked with getting the most out of a shoestring budget, hence the rookie manager and all the rhetorical value placed upon various types of MLS allocation money.

    Andell is done spending. Andell will sell.

  • In reply to Bogdan:

    If this is the case, why wouldn't the Bronfmans start working with MLS to sell the franchise? I would think MLS would want a team in Chicago. Can someone copy the AK twitter response. Seriously has anyone's name been more appropriate: Atul is exactly what he is.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Don't assume they're not. Certainly, it's in MLS's best interest to get the highest price possible for an existing franchise. What makes this deal more complicated, though, is the wild card Stephen Landek. Landek is operating, and he clearly wants a piece of the action. He's been speaking with two of the three potential ownership groups, as well as Don Garber.

    Landek will need a payoff on the existing lease term (18-19 years), or will have to re-work the Village's deal with the new franchise owner to incentivize the latter to stay in Bridgeview. As was reported a few years ago, the amount of debt on the stadium is significant and burdensome. The last loan facility was entered into just to pay interest on the original loan(s).

    Landek needs to do a deal, but he's not going to do a deal with Andell. The relationship between Andell and Landek has been toxic for years. Their respective behaviors has created a race to the bottom, and neither will budge.

    What fans may need to do is hold their noses and hope Garber and MLS can broker a fair deal for all parties involved. In the end, MLS (the members of the LLC, i.e. the franchise owners) will need to approve the sale. While certainly not impossible, it's unlikely they'd agree to allow a new franchise owner to take the Fire to a different market.

  • In reply to Bogdan:

    This is total bullshit, none of it is true.

  • In reply to iron81:

    Whether it's true or not, the response and the tone of the response to G's column speaks volumes. Clearly this franchise is every bit the train wreck being described. And, true or not, Bogdan's comments have a ring of truth. The breakdown in the functionality of the Chicago Fire and MLS's failure to prevent Andell's pretense of an attempt to compete in MLS while waiting to reap an undeserved profit is clear to all. Hope that greater powers are moving to wrest control from AK and force sale of the team to a reputable owner is the "heart's desire" of every true fan of the Fire. Maybe it's true. Maybe it isn't. But the fact that everyone absolutely hopes so says it all!

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I recall hearing bric-brac on the philandering part a couple years back. I haven't heard anything else until now. Hm.

    Plus, these days lots of backroom antics seem to be getting the light of day, so it's all entirely possible.

    Andell:
    Sell

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Exactly! You have to think that other owners will eventually get fed up because AH is bringing down the value of the league. Hauptman clearly is the WORST owner in MLS.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    The other owners have a lot to learn from Andrew in terms of smart management, passion for winning and self sacrifice in the interest of building a club Chicago can be proud of. He's an asset to the league as well as the Fire.

  • In reply to iron81:

    This is unbelievable. If you think you are practicing your comedic repertoire, you should note that this isn't Second City.

  • In reply to iron81:

    Other owners have a lot to learn? Passion for winning?? Asset to the league????

  • In reply to iron81:

    Who is this deluded dildo?

  • In reply to Arklow:

    There have been literally dozens of gifs doled out to attack the Fire, there nos no reason for AK to think using one to support the Fire would be deemed offensive. There has been no breakdown in functionality, we have great professionals running the team including Khosla.

  • Man I hope you're right. If this drama is true, things should start looking up within a few years.
    (Man, that's a jacked up version of good news)

  • What a mess. 99% of the time, the heavy-handedness and dictatorship of the MLS/US Soccer is annoying af (see Jones, Jermaine), but this seems like one instance where it could actually work out for the best. Garber or someone from USSF should step in and crack some heads to get this crap sorted out.

  • fb_avatar

    While trying to figure out a ball park of what an ownership group would have to offer, I came across the 2015 Forbes article with MLS team values. The average team a year ago was worth ~$157,000,000 with Chicago valued right at about the average ($160mil). When the league bought back Chivas USA, it payed roughly 70 million (some reports say it was lower) around the same time they sold NYFC and Orlando franchises for $100 mil and $70 mil respectively. There were certainly special circumstances around the Chivas buy back but looking at that purchase, it is at or below what they were selling new franchises for. Considering they are now asking $200 million for a new franchise (which as others have mentioned, doesnt mean they will get that much for one), and considering the albatross that is the stadium deal for the Fire, could it be reasonable to assume a group could purchase for well under the $200 million mark? I tried to get a ball park idea of how much $ it would take to buy out of the stadium deal but looking at the deal details GR has listed and other reports of how much debt they are in ($18,000 per resident and counting!) and an operating loss of 4-5 million a year for the stadium....I had absolutely no idea where to start.

  • In reply to Carl Miller:

    Ha! That may be harder to figure out that MLS cap rules.

  • Nice timing for all this info (and the attendant idle conjecture) to surface just after the USOC loss. It's a very welcome distraction and certainly gives me some hope the situation might have some fundamental change in the next few years. Thanks to GR for the intrepid reporting.

  • I think we start a GoFundMe page for GR to buy the team:)

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Haha. I'd need a lot more TAM!

  • weekend picks:

    van sj tie
    dc por tie
    nyrb mtl nyrb
    clb nyc nyc
    ne phi phi
    hou tor tor
    dal kc tie
    la col tie
    chi orl tie
    sea rsl tie

    4-5 last week 72-134 overall

  • This is so depressing and reminded me of an article from 2013 by Bill Archer on Jose Vergara and Chivas USA (tied with the Fire for length of time since winning an away match).

    I did a search and I think this is the full article:
    http://www.bigsoccer.com/blog/2013/03/14/seedy-chivas-and-the-way-forward

    Chillingly relevant portion
    "Basically it appears that if Vergara can cut out-of-pocket expenses to the bone - you don't need a bunch of staff if you don't have many customers, I guess - and get his player's salaries paid by the other owners, then he's got a reasonable vehicle to use for his own purposes, namely getting his hooks into Latino players living in Southern California (in the middle of an austerity movement Chivas nevertheless just announced the expansion of their Academy program to include U14's) and providing a sort of finishing school for not-ready-for primetime young professionals.

    Best of all, the ownership share he probably only paid five million bucks for (assuming he paid roughly 50% of the original $10 million "franchise" fee and little or nothing for the other half when the Cue's decided to cut and run) is now probably worth $40 or $50 million - at least - on the open market, with ready buyers starting to line up.

    Plus - and don't think for a minute that he or anyone has missed it - the expectation is that in the not-to-distant future someone is going to open up their checkbook and cut MLS a $100 million payday in return for the rights to the NY market.

    Now only the simple minded think that the money will be divvied up into little $5 million gift baskets for the existing owners. That's NASL thinking and that's why the NASL no longer exists (Yes, I know and no, it really doesn't)."

  • Weekend picks:

    Vancouver over San Jose
    Portland over DC
    New York RB and Montreal draw
    New England and Philadelphia draw
    New York City over Columbus
    Toronto over Houston
    FC Dallas over Sporting KC
    Los Angeles over Colorado
    Chicago and Orlando City draw
    Seattle over Real Salt Lake

  • I'd be real curious to know what impact this kind of thing has on the players and their enthusiasm for playing here. They have to hear plenty of rumblings and they're only human. It has to take a toll after a while.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    Pauno is thier glue. If he breaks down, it all falls apart (and we tumble relentlessly further into the bowels of fandom hell.)

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