Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts has had preliminary talks with Sky principal owner Michael Alter about becoming a potential investor in the WNBA team, multiple sources told the Tribune.
A source said Ricketts and his wife, Brooke Skinner, are considering the opportunity because it aligns with their philanthropic mission.
From the sky won the 2021 WNBA Finals, Alter has stated that it is open to adding investors. That possibility has progressed since his offseason comments, according to a source familiar with the matter.
“Brooke and I would love to support Sky in any way we can,” Ricketts told the Tribune. “We really respect, admire and appreciate everything that Michael Alter has done for that team. They’re one of the few teams (WNBA) that didn’t start out in connection with an NBA team, so the challenges he’s had and the impact he’s had on the team makes Michael’s investment all the more impressive and I really appreciate it. .”
Alter would not confirm that talks with Ricketts have taken place, but offered insights into why she would be an ideal investor.
“Hypothetically, she is a very prominent sports team owner,” Alter told the Tribune. “She has been a huge fan of this league for a long time and she has been civically active here in Chicago, which is very important to us. If she is someone who wanted to get involved and had an interest in her, then we would certainly talk to her about it.”
One source said talks between the two owners are “still in the preliminary stage” and details of Ricketts’ possible involvement are still being discussed.
Sides are already in business after the Cubs marquee sports net reached a multiyear deal with heaven in May for the cable channel to air a select number of Sky games. A source close to the situation said Ricketts was heavily involved in pushing through that deal.
Since joining the WNBA in 2006, the Sky has had a reputation for not providing the same resources as other teams in the league. They do not have a private training facility and practices are held at the Sachs Recreation Center in Deerfield, 30 miles from Wintrust Arena.
Sky coach and general manager James Wade said the team has added more player accommodations each year since he was hired in 2018. During the offseason, Sky added features such as post-practice meals, massages, hot tubs, customized ice and expanded coaching and training. staff
Wade said the team purchased a $50,000 AlterG anti-gravity treadmill at Sachs Recreation Center and now has its own weight room at the practice facility.
“We just felt taken care of,” Sky setter Courtney Vandersloot said. “It can be simple things like a massage or food after practice. That’s very important to us as athletes, and we’ve never had access to that before. Other teams have kitchens at their practice facility and it’s something you can take for granted, but eating is very important to what we do.
“We don’t have time to take care of ourselves and they heard that. They have done an incredible job and we have felt that big difference.”
Alter said that if Sky were to add investors, it would not be for lack of financial resources, but to help increase the value of the franchise.
“I’ve been working to build this league for 17 years,” Alter said. “One of the things I’ve focused a lot on is showing how the value of franchises has increased over the years. One way to validate that is to go out and raise capital with third parties at a certain value.”
Sources told the Tribune that talks are too early for Ricketts’ potential role with Sky to be determined. However, the consensus is that he would fit the league’s mold as a potential investor.
Throughout the WNBA, the importance of ownership that the league’s stance on human rights represents is pronounced. In 2020, players campaigned against former Atlanta Dream owner and US Senator Kelly Loeffler, R-Georgia, after she spoke out against the Black Lives Matter movement. She later sold the team and lost the Senate race to Raphael Warnock, for whom the players advocatedwearing “Vote Warnock” t-shirts to his games.
Ricketts and Skinner have been strong advocates for LGBTQ+ rights in Chicago. The WNBA has members of that community, including the Vandersloot Skyguards and his wife, Allie Quigley. Sky players who spoke to the Tribune reiterated their desire for proprietary members to align with the social values of the league.
“It’s really important,” forward Azura Stevens said. “When you do business with good people, it starts at the top and filters down. It is very important to have someone who is aligned with the women who deserve the most because if they don’t feel that way, this is not the right place for them.”
Chicago Tribune reporter Meghan Montemurro contributed.
James Kay is a freelance reporter for the Chicago Tribune.