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Cubs owner buying majority stake in Lincoln Yards professional soccer team

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The team will play at a 20,000-seat riverfront stadium developed by Sterling Bay

Sterling Bay

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and local developer Sterling Bay are teaming up on a plan to bring a United Soccer League expansion team to the Chicago River’s North Branch. The deal will see Ricketts take a majority ownership position in the yet-to-be-named professional franchise.

While Sterling Bay announced an agreement to bring a USL team to its Lincoln Yards mixed-use development in November, the newly formed partnership with Ricketts brings and additional degree of credibility to the endeavor.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be working with the Ricketts family to bring this project to life,” said Andy Gloor, Sterling Bay’s managing principal, in a statement. “With their deep expertise in sports franchising, the Ricketts are an ideal partner for us to collaborate with and energize Chicago sports fans with a new local team to rally around.”

The USL team is expected to make its home at a new 20,000-seat arena designed by Chicago-based architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Featuring a retractable roof, the year-round facility will host “neighborhood friendly” events such as concerts. The stadium was also showcased in Sterling Bay’s pitch to lure Amazon’s HQ2 to the riverfront site.

Proposed for 70-plus acres of formerly industrial land vacated by Finkl Steel, General Iron, Lakin Recycling, and the city’s Fleet and Facility Management complex, the Lincoln Yards development still needs final zoning approval to move forward. Additional discussions regarding public open space and mass transit continue to take place.

After purchasing the Chicago Cubs in 2009, the Ricketts family were instrumental in Wrigleyville’s dramatic evolution. The family spearheaded renovations to the historic ballpark as well as consolidated ownership of adjacent rooftop venues and developed the 173-room Hotel Zachary.

The new joint venture between Ricketts and Sterling Bay target a 2021 debut for Chicago’s United Soccer League team.

An earlier rendering of the Lincoln Yards stadium showing Amazon branding at center field.
Sterling Bay