Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Chicago Bears Suddenly Face A Crisis In Ownership Group


Virginia McCaskey is the primary owner of the Chicago Bears. Many have been focused on what will happen to the organization once she passes away. She’s 100 years old. It is only a matter of time. Do they have a succession plan? Well, that question is about to be answered, but not in the way anybody expected. Andrew McKenna, their longtime minority owner and former McDonalds chairman, has died at the age of 93. It was first reported by Steven R. Strahler of Crain’s Chicago Business.

Together with Pat Ryan, McKenna owned 19.7% of the Bears. His death creates uncertainty about what will happen with those shares. Does somebody in his family take over responsibility as a board member, or will someone else in the organization look to purchase those shares from his family? Such uncertainty offers a window into how the team will handle matters once Virginia herself passes. There are rumblings that some of the younger generation McCaskeys want to sell.

Would they allow an outsider with interest to buy into the franchise?

“This afternoon we lost a friend of more than 40 years to our family and the Bears,” said Bears chairman George H. McCaskey. “Few people have had a larger impact on our great city. Andy spent his life dedicated to institutions across sports, media, museums, academia, health care and more sharing his insights and leadership. His guidance helped us make sound business decisions, most recently with our selection of Kevin Warren as our next President & CEO. We are grateful for his many contributions to the Bears and his wisdom will be missed. Our prayers are with his family.”

The Chicago Bears haven’t seen anything like this in over 30 years.

McKenna and Ryan joined the ownership group way back in 1990. It was done to help the organization deal with a debt crisis brought on by the death of George Halas seven years earlier. The Bears were reportedly worth around $150 million at that time. The two men saved the organization from some ugly financial straits and helped pave the way for it to eventually become worth more than $5 billion. McKenna may not have the same glamor as other Bears heroes, but his influence cannot and should not be understated.

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It is somewhat fitting that the Kevin Warren hire will go down as his last significant decision before passing away. Many feel this addition will help carry the Chicago Bears into a bright future. People can talk about the football decisions all day. The fact is this team may not exist as it does today with McKenna’s influence. He should be honored and celebrated. It will be interesting to see what is done about his stocks in the coming weeks and months.


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Feb 9, 2023 9:25 am

Something for the Arlington Heights Bears to worry about!

Feb 9, 2023 8:48 am

What McKenna did for the McCaskey family seems significant, but the author suggesting the Chicago Bears may not exist today without his efforts is more than a stretch. The team simply would be owned by someone else and it’s extremely unlikely that the new owner would have wanted to leave a major market like Chicago.

Many successful family owned businesses are sold once the third generation takes over. The franchise is worth so much it will be hard not to sell and split the proceeds.

Passing Through
Passing Through
Feb 9, 2023 6:58 am

Attila: Owners get dividends. Board members get dividends and compensation. Virginia’s income is estimated in the millions. It’s true, she doesn’t live like a wealthy person (as far as I know) and, perhaps, none of the family do (although the late Mike’s frequent trips to Martha’s Vineyard makes me think they’re not the humble servants you portray), but the story that they aren’t able to benefit from the great value of the Bears franchise unless they sell is a BS story they tell the newspapers, who lap it up. And, really, saying they want to build in Arlington Heights because… Read more »

Passing Through
Passing Through
Feb 9, 2023 6:36 am

If anybody’s curious how McKenna got that 19 percent, I believe this is the background (from the NY Times): ___________ WHEN the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl two years ago, members of the majority shareholding McCaskey family gathered in the locker room to congratulate the players and coaches. It was the first championship that the descendants of the Bears’ founder, George S. Halas Sr., engineered since assuming control of the team in 1983. Conspiciously missing from the locker-room celebration were two of the founder’s grandchildren, who also inherited a substantial portion of the team. Though they jointly own 20… Read more »

Feb 8, 2023 9:45 pm

Hehateme30, How little you know about the bears’ owners is intriguing to me. Let me give you some information, so next time you don’t paint them in false light. All of the owners (McCaskeys) live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Virginia has been living in the same humble house in Desplaines for well over 60 years. Many of my friends used to see her at church, stores, restaurants in the surrounding neighborhoods. She was always very polite and kind. Her descendants also live in Desplaines, Mt Prospect, Buffalo Grove, etc. The sons refereed elementary basketball games and were always… Read more »

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