Where McDonough should land next

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough speaks during an NHL hockey news conference to announce hiring Jeremy Colliton as a Blackhawks new head coach Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Chicago. Colliton replaced Joel Quenneville, who was fired.

    Chicago Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough speaks during an NHL hockey news conference to announce hiring Jeremy Colliton as a Blackhawks new head coach Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Chicago. Colliton replaced Joel Quenneville, who was fired. Associated Press

  • Chicago Fire owner Joe Mansueto at Soldier Field.

    Chicago Fire owner Joe Mansueto at Soldier Field. Courtesy of Chicago Fire

 
 
Updated 4/30/2020 6:19 PM

Rocky Wirtz gave Joe Mansueto a great opportunity Monday.

When the Blackhawks owner fired John McDonough as team president, Wirtz made McDonough a free agent in the Chicago sports market. No Chicago team needs a man of McDonough's considerable business talents as much as Mansueto's Chicago Fire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If you know of McDonough, you probably know him from his 13 years with the Blackhawks and his 25 years before that with the Cubs. With both teams he helped develop strong fan followings.

Cubs tickets became hard to get even as ticket prices soared. The Blackhawks are riding a streak of 531 consecutive sellouts at the United Center.

Under McDonough's stewardship, the Blackhawks won three Stanley Cup championships. Some might call them a dynasty.

The Fire hasn't won a playoff game since 2009.

McDonough has history in soccer. The Sting won the 1981 North American Soccer League championship while McDonough worked in the front office.

Now he's unemployed, and Mansueto needs to send McDonough a link for a Zoom meeting, no search firm necessary.

Mansueto -- the billionaire founder of Morningstar, the Chicago-based financial research and financial services company -- sees great potential in the Fire. He sees so much potential that he bought out previous owner Andrew Hauptman in September. And he bought out the Fire's lease at 20,000-seat SeatGeek Stadium in southwest suburban Bridgeview to move the team back downtown to Soldier Field.

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Mansueto showed he's ready to make bold moves. He's willing to take risks. He's able to spend money.

He sees MLS teams filling football stadiums in Atlanta and Seattle and asks, why not Chicago?

This is why Mansueto needs McDonough.

The Fire showed this off-season that it needs a strong, smart hand in the front office. The Fire needs someone who knows the Chicago market like the championship rings on his fingers.

The Fire, a club starved for local media attention, would get it just by announcing McDonough's hiring.

Without McDonough the Fire rolled out a club rebranding this winter built around a new team logo. That logo drew a combination of howls and mockery. Would a marketing man like McDonough have allowed such a blunder to happen at such a critical juncture?

More than anything, the Fire needs someone with a record of filling Chicago stadiums. The Fire hasn't done that consistently in years.

In 2019 the Fire placed last in Major League Soccer in attendance, drawing an average of 12,324 fans. Now the Fire is trying to find a way to fill 61,500-seat Soldier Field.

The Fire has done well to build up its front office the past few years. Moving local telecasts to WGN this off-season and hiring Arlo White to do part-time play-by-play work were winning moves.

Hiring McDonough would be a winning move also.

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