Sky in preliminary talks with Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts and others about investing in franchise

Sky principal owner Michael Alter said ahead of the 2022 season that adding investors to the Sky franchise was top of mind for him.

Those additions are starting to take shape with Alter confirming that the Sky and Cubs co-owner Laura Rickets have had preliminary conversations regarding her becoming an investor in the WNBA franchise. Alter told the Sun-Times that he’s had multiple preliminary conversations with interested investors but declined to say who the other parties were.

“When you’re out thinking about adding investors you have to talk to people,” Alter said. “Laura [Ricketts] is just one of the people we’ve talked to.”

According to Alter, they are very early in all occurring discussions and no specifics regarding investments have been considered. Right now, the Sky are simply gauging interest from potential investors.

The top priority for Alter is adding investors who align with the WNBA’s and the franchise’s values.

“The money is secondary,” Alter said. “We won’t do this unless we find partners that share our values. That’s absolutely essential.”

Alter said last March the timing is perfect to add investors because the Sky have a valuable story to tell. The Sky ownership group’s primary reason for moving forward now according to Alter is to validate the value of their franchise.

Alter knows there are always things the Sky can do better as an organization, but they don’t need to do anything radically different to draw free agents he said. He added that the franchise’s culture has kept players in Chicago and attracted top free agents.

Still, there is a widening gap between teams regarding player experience and amenities, and the Sky have a reputation as being in the bottom tier. The Sky do not have a private training facility and practice at Sachs Recreation Center, a public fitness center in Deerfield.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Storm announced in May the development of a state-of-the-art performance center dedicated solely to their franchise. The project, scheduled to be completed by 2024 WNBA training camp, is being funded by the franchises ownership group and is projected to cost more than $60 million.

Ricketts, as a Sky investor, could bring ideas like those that helped turn the Cubs around.

The Cubs were MLB’s perpetual “Lovable Losers” when the Ricketts family bought the team from Tribune Co. in 2009. Though the team has struggled recently, the club had a string of successful years culminating in a World Series title in 2016.

The Ricketts family has also remade the area around Wrigley Field, including the construction of a hotel across from the ballpark, the development of Gallagher Way and plans to add a sportsbook to the stadium.

Alter was adamant that these conversations do not reflect any change in his long-term commitment to the Sky and the WNBA.

“I’m as deeply involved and engaged as ever,” Alter said. “I don’t see that changing any time soon.”

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