Thursday, October 29, 2015

Chicago Sting - Peter Wilt's involved

Earlier today, an article came out from Empire of Soccer indicating that a group wants to bring a team to NASL from Chicago using the old Chicago Sting moniker.  This part isn't much of a surprise as there have been a lot of rumors about future NASL teams, including Chicago.  What came as a surprise to me, and seemingly a few others, was that:
Helping to lead the Sting’s resurrection effort is a name that is very familiar to the Chicago soccer scene — Peter Wilt. Wilt currently serves as the President of Indy Eleven. Much as he did with Indy prior to their arrival in NASL, he has taken on an unpaid consulting role with Club 9 Sports in their efforts to rebuild the Sting, helping in their search for further investors to the potential franchise group.
However, the group hopes to be up and running by 2017, and aim to secure their full roster of investors by early next year. Wilt’s future role with the organization is up in the air, but both an ownership or upper level management role may be in play. 
Provided there is validity to the article and the statements, as I indicated to another fan shortly after we read the article, the fact that he's an "unpaid consultant" for a potential Indy Eleven opponent make me think he's already gone. It's just a matter of when. I can only assume that his current boss, Ersal Ozdemir, was previously made aware of Wilt's unpaid role with Club 9 Sports and approved Wilt's efforts.

What does that mean for the Eleven?  As of right now, maybe nothing. Wilt is still the President/GM of the Indy Eleven and I don't think that helping a search for investors negatively affects his ability with the Eleven. At least in the near, near term. Though, selfishly, I wonder if when he's finding investors for another NASL franchise if he can also find investors to help pay for an Indy Eleven stadium, because I don't see that happening going the current legislative route.

My biggest concern is whether there is a potential conflict of interest in having any kind of stake in competing NASL teams even if Peter is staying with the Eleven through the 2016 season and moving to the Sting for their inaugural 2017 season.  Can Peter remain objective enough in his role with the Eleven, while also looking forward to fielding a successful team in Chicago? Would he send a player to Indy or keep them in his back pocket for the inaugural Chicago Sting roster? How would 2016 Fall Season Eleven roster moves be affected with his impending departure while also considering the potential 2017 Fall Season Sting roster?

I would hope he's objective from what I know of Peter, but the Eleven won't be the shiny penny. They'll be the penny that has underperformed, with a new coach (even if it becomes Regan), in a City/State that isn't overly enthusiastic about building a stadium, with a much smaller potential fan base. Shiny penny might win out.

Of course, this is also a league where:
At one time Traffic [Sports USA] owned three clubs and indirectly owned the largest stake in a fourth until Minnesota was divested. With the recent divestiture of Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale. Traffic only holds interests in Carolina.
That being said, I don't see Wilt maintaining positions at two competing teams unless one of those teams has a realistic chance of moving "up" to MLS or "down" to USL (quotes are for division designations and not necessarily better/worse). In some ways, I'm not surprised by Peter's involvement in the Chicago Sting's investment group because of his history with the region. Though it seemed like he has embraced Indianapolis and Indiana as a whole. The guy knows more about the history of the state than most long-time residents.

While I don't know any of the details beyond what I read in the article and the little bit that I know of Peter from my personal interactions with him, it still disappoints me to find out that the potential exists for him to be leaving the Eleven after only a few years. I have always had the impression that his embracing of the city meant he might be here for an extended period of time. I think the Eleven will be fine after his departure, but I think his name recognition has facilitated many of the initial aspects with this team. Though considering how the Chicago Fire have fared since his departure, you have to wonder.

My last comment is that this is just one more thing in a long list of events where Indianapolis residents are made to feel like they are second fiddle to Chicago...and it sucks.


Jeff C. said...

I agree that this development certainly makes it look like Peter's time in Indianapolis will come to an end sooner rather than later. And I'm of two minds about this. Peter and his team did an absolutely masterful job of building fan stop for the team, even before it took the field. I've had a couple of conversations with him, and int's impossible to speak with him without being impressed and inspired. And the way he's taken to Indianapolis and Indiana has been incredibly endearing. That said, I'm not sure he's done a particularly good job of putting together a good team on the field. I don't mean to understand the difficulty of this job or the challenges in making a transition to a new league with new levels of expectations and available resources. But the reality is that Indy has been pretty poor on the field for two years now, with the need for further major reconstruction ahead.

The bigger question, I suppose, is who might succeed Peter. Given the NASL's second-tier status, it strikes me as highly unlikely hat Indy would be able to attract someone with Peter's experience and skill set, at a time when the team urgently needs someone like him if it is to get a stadium built. Despite the continued box office success through the second season, I still feel like the team's future is precarious. It needs to do two major things: first, improve the product on the field, because Hoosiers don't have a great track record for supporting losing teams; and second, get a stadium built, because the Mike simply won't cut it long-term (if nothing else, the stands are really uncomfortable). And although I have doubts about Peter's abilities with respect to the first need, I think he's pretty close to indispensable when it comes to the second.

Drew said...

Jeff, I'm going to address your comments, but I think I want to do it as part of a larger season wrap-up post that I have in mind. In essence, though, I agree and disagree. Stay tuned...