Cubs chair Tom Ricketts investing in new Chicago soccer team

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Tom Ricketts, the chairman of the Chicago Cubs, plans to be a part owner of a new United Soccer League team in Chicago. (WLS)

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is expanding his sports footprint in Chicago.

Ricketts has agreed to form a joint venture agreement to take ownership of the United Soccer League team, which is headed to Chicago. He is investing in a minor league soccer team that will play in a stadium linked to one of the sites pitched for Amazon's HQ 2.

"My family is very excited at the prospect of bringing professional USL soccer to Chicago at this terrific new development," Ricketts said in the statement.

The team will play in a 20,000-seat stadium planned for a 70-acre stretch of land in the Bucktown and Lincoln Park neighborhoods on the Lincoln Yards site.

The proposed soccer stadium would be built along the Chicago River on a piece of property once home to Finkl Steel, located just north of Cortland Street.

The facility could also be used for concerts and other events. The Lincoln Yards Development was one of the sites that Amazon executives visited earlier this year, but a Ricketts spokesman said the Cubs owner's decision to buy a majority interest in the soccer team had nothing at all to do with the possibility of Amazon maybe locating its second headquarters there.

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A 20,000-seat stadium is planned for a 70-acre stretch of land in the Bucktown and Lincoln Park neighborhoods on the Lincoln Yards site.

Instead it was simply a business decision by Ricketts who has been interested in getting involved in soccer, and had previously been a part owner of an English team.

Sterling Bay is tapping into Rickett's expertise in sports franchising and he could take on a roll in developing Lincoln Yards.

But while Rickett's investment in the USL soccer franchise may generate some additional excitement, there are concerns about the overall development along that part of the Chicago River.

"We have a lot of soccer fans in city I think it would be good to help on concerns of economic development but we have to look at the bigger picture of this area, how it effects the surrounding communities," said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward).

Waguespack says he and some community groups want to see a large scale public park, 25-40 acres, be part of any development and they complain Mayor Rahm Emanuel won't commit to that.

The mayor's office says the development framework calls for 60 acres of open space with at least 10 acres for athletic fields and other recreational facilities.

And while a soccer stadium with a Rickett's connection sounds appealing, there are many steps in the process before plans for this undeveloped space take shape.
Related Topics:
sportssoccerChicago CubsChicagoLincoln ParkBucktown
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