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.