Laura Ricketts’ possible investment in Chicago Sky could be what franchise needs

Photo Credit: Nike

It was not that long ago when Chicago was at the center of the women’s basketball universe when several AAU tournaments – including the EYBL Nike Nationals and Prep Girls Hoops 2K22 were taking place in and around the area.

And, of course, there was that WNBA All-Star weekend thing that occurred at Wintrust Arena and McCormick Place.

The Windy City is also, of course, the home of the Chicago Sky – a WNBA team since the mid-2000s and defending champions. While the Sky do occupy the country’s third largest media market, Chicago historically has not had the investment that other WNBA teams (such as those under umbrellas of NBA big brothers) have seen.

The investment that teams such as the New York Liberty, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, Phoenix Mercury, Indiana Fever and even (most recently) the Las Vegas Aces have seen has dwarfed that of the Sky in recent years. After all, Chicago is a standalone WNBA team that is not under the Bulls’ umbrella and has never played in the Bulls’ home arena – United Center.

Could the amount of money flowing into the Chicago coffers about to get a boost? Reports out of Chicago indicate that Laura Ricketts – a co-owner of MLB’s Chicago Cubs – has been in talks with Michael Alter, the Sky’s principal owner, about becoming an investor in the team.

While on its face it sounds as if it is a positive story because the more money that flows into either the league or its teams would be a net positive. But the Ricketts family as Cubs fans will tell one does have connections to Republican politics. After all, Pete Ricketts is Nebraska’s governor.

Given the current tenor of Republican politics in 2022 even the slightest bit of connection to them would naturally be interpreted as radioactive. Just ask former Atlanta Dream owner Kelly Loeffler who was all but jettisoned out of the WNBA’s ownership ranks after making incendiary comments regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

And that was in the midst of her losing her Georgia Senate race in 2020 to Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Laura Ricketts herself is a Democrat. Not to mention she is openly gay. The Sky will be in good hands both financially and socially as long as any Ricketts investment in the team is only coming her and her wife and not from anyone else with that last name.

After all, given how the GOP generally feels about the W, one wonders if any other Ricketts member can name at least 10 WNBA players – including five from the Sky.

One thing is for sure – it certainly makes the Sky’s new broadcast arrangement make more sense. For years, the Chicago Sky have been seen on local station WCIU-TV 26 – Chicago’s CW affiliate. The Sky are in the first season where the Marquee Sports Network is the home for the team’s contests. Marquee is owned by the Cubs and Sinclair Broadcast Group (which itself has questionable political leanings).

We have seen exactly how WNBA teams benefit when owners actually take it upon themselves and invest money in said teams. Look at how the Liberty’s facilities and locker rooms at Barclays Center have drastically improved ever since Joe and Clara Wu Tsai have invested the money they have into the seafoam, black and copper. Look at how Mark Davis with the Aces has mentioned wanting to put a training facility for the team in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson.

There may also be no better time than now for a deep pocketed owner to really give the Sky a financial boost. After all, it can be argued that Chicago is really the class franchise of the WNBA at the moment. The team won last year’s championship, is in the Commissioner’s Cup Final vs. the Aces and could possibly see those same Aces in this year’s Finals.

There have been a few occasions where WNBA teams have seen windfalls of investment but are still going through a period of relative growing pains – the Liberty and Fever are textbook examples of this. But in the case of the Sky, said sky really is the limit especially with someone who has pockets as deep as Laura Ricketts looking to make sure that the team that plays at Wintrust continues to rack up wins on and off the court.