Chicago Red Stars Introduce Groundbreaking New Ownership Group
Updated: May 10
Esteemed Group includes influential figures in sports, entertainment,
technology, and business – all with Chicago ties
CHICAGO (March 1, 2021) -- The Chicago Red Stars are thrilled to announce the first members of its groundbreaking ownership group that adds new caretakers for its next generation of growth. The Chicago owners’ group is comprised of home-grown fans and believers in the power of possibility that the team represents.
Spearheaded by founding and majority owner Arnim Whisler and his family, the group is a model of team ownership in the 21st century. All are fans first, a rich tapestry of people united around a common goal that reflects the diversity and vibrancy of Chicago and appreciates the world-class excitement of competition the NWSL provides. They include former Chicago Bears defensive end Israel Idonije, Olympic gold medalist and Blackhawks development coach Kendall Coyne Schofield, Emmy and Peabody Award-winning sports journalist Sarah Spain, music executive Colleen Mares, NFL marketing leader Julie Haddon, and local entrepreneur Marie Tillman, in addition to prominent Chicago families, media executives and other distinguished businesspeople. Finally, young Chicagoans will not only be able to imagine themselves as pro athletes, but also as owners and board members deserving of a seat at the table. This group of owners, caretakers, fans and community members are all-in, making this already winning team the future of sports in Chicago.
“We’ve begun the process of building a singular, powerful team that spans from the pitch to the boardroom. This group is more than mere investors. Everyone involved cares deeply about the city of Chicago and the success of the Chicago Red Stars, the NWSL, and women's sports. It’s time for the Red Stars to shine even brighter,” says Whisler.
Also joining the club are NFL offensive guard Michael Schofield, Impossible Foods marketing executive Jessie Becker, and prominent current and former Chicagoans in business, technology and communications: Brian Walsh, Kevin Willer, David M. Zapata, Jordan Levin, Abel Lezcano, and Michael Raimondi. They join founding owners Whisler, Dean Egerter and Steve Ritchie.
Even in the middle of a pandemic the swift, strategic growth of the NWSL and its new influx of prominent owners at multiple teams proves the league’s power as a brand, and the brand power of individual clubs. The investors are buying into the idea that this sport, this league, and this club are part of a revolution. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. The US Women’s National Team and US player development system dominate global women’s soccer. And now, the people putting their skin in the game are changing the conversation, perception and fundamentally improving the possibilities for athletes, fans, their communities, and the causes they support.
The owners are committed to being hands-on and are already contributing to the club’s mission. Each brings their incredible expertise, network and passion to extend the teams on field winning into a world-class brand. They’re already engaged in day-to-day activities, opening doors to the league and team that expands its purpose.
“We are pleased to welcome this powerhouse group,” says Whisler. “We’ve already shown we can consistently excel in the NWSL, the top league in the world, but we have our sights set on a bigger impact in Chicago and on the international stage.”
The Red Stars ownership group now includes:
· Jessie Becker
· Dean Egerter (founding member)
· Julie Haddon
· Israel Idonije
· Jordan Levin
· Abel Lezcano
· Colleen Mares
· Michael Raimondi
· Steve Ritchie (founding member)
· Kendall Coyne Schofield
· Michael Schofield
· Sarah Spain
· Marie Tillman
· Brian Walsh
· Arnim Whisler (founding member)
· Kevin Willer
· David M. Zapata
And we are not finished yet, additional discussions are underway. You can learn more about why our owners believe that now is the time to get behind the Chicago Red Stars and women’s sports at www.chicagoredstars.com/why-i-believe.
ABOUT THE RED STARS:
Established in 2007, the Red Stars were a founding member of the former Women’s Professional Soccer and would later become one of the original eight teams to form the National Women’s Soccer League in 2013. The Red Stars have made the playoffs in six consecutive years from 2015-2020, clinching the team’s first appearance in the NWSL Championship in the 2019 season as well as appearing in the NWSL’s Challenge Cup Final in 2020.
The Red Stars play at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, one of few soccer-specific stadiums with an all-grass practice and playing surface in the league. Throughout the team’s storied history, the Red Stars’ have had a star-studded roster featuring some of the greatest players to have played for the United States such as Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Kate Markgraf (Sobrero), Lindsay Tarpley, Lori Chalupny, Christen Press, and Shannon Boxx, while currently boasting a roster with USWNT stars such Julie Ertz, Casey Short, Alyssa Naeher, Tierna Davidson, Mallory Pugh and Morgan Gautrat. The Red Stars have also been home to national team players from Australia (Sam Kerr), Canada (Karina LeBlanc), Germany (Inka Grings), Japan (Yuki Nagasato), and Brazil (Christiane Rozeira and Formiga) at different points in the team’s 11-year history.