Chris Wright Named First CEO of Minnesota United FC
With about a month left in its inaugural Major League Soccer season, local franchise Minnesota United FC announced on Monday the addition of Chris Wright, the long-time Timberwolves and Lynx president, to its team.
On October 6, following the WNBA championship and the completion of the Lynx’s season, Wright will officially take over as the first CEO of Minnesota’s professional soccer team.
“In the last year, MNUFC has moved into the MLS, the top tier of soccer in America; has begun construction of a magnificent new soccer stadium…and has partnered with leading Minnesota businesses and entitites to make this great game a positive part of our lives and our home,” Minnesota United managing partner Bill McGuire said in a statement. “The addition to our group of such experienced, tested and proven leadership—from the business, fan and sporting sides—is a tremendous and unprecedented positive for us, our fans and this community.”
Wright, a 26-year veteran of the Timberwolves and Lynx organizations, led the state’s two professional basketball teams as their president for 13 years. During Wright’s tenure, the Timberwolves and Lynx formed some of its largest partnerships, including those with Target, US Bank, Jack Link’s and the Mayo Clinic.
Notably, the joint basketball organization credits Wright with a sales and development effort in 2014 that netted Mayo Clinic Square, a state-of-the-art practice and sports medicine facility near Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.
“A constant fixture in the corporate sector, Chris developed cornerstone partnerships with brands,” said Timberwolves and Lynx CEO Ethan Casson in prepared remarks. “Chris has worked tirelessly as a steward for the Timberwolves and Lynx organization and will always be a member of the Timberwolves and Lynx family.”
As a native of England, home to one of the world’s top soccer leagues, Wright will join Minnesota United with a significant understanding of his new sport of focus. When Wright first came to America, he served as general manager for Major Indoor Soccer League teams the Pittsburgh Spirit (from 1981 to 1986) and the Minnesota Strikers (1986 to 1987). In the years following his indoor soccer league stint, Wright worked as a consultant bidding for major national and international events, including the programming for the National Sports Center in Blaine, which today houses the Minnesota United training grounds. He eventually became the National Sports Center’s first director, a position he held until joining the Timberwolves and Lynx organization.
“With his lifelong passion for ‘the world’s game,’ it is fitting that Chris’s path has brought him back to the sport where he journey began,” Timberwolves and Lynx majority owner Glen Taylor said in a statement. “Chris will be an extraordinary leader for the Minnesota United FC franchise.”
When Wright officially joins Minnesota United on October 6, the team will have three games remaining in its season. Based on current standings, the team is not expected to make a postseason appearance.
“I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to return to my own sport roots, help build an iconic stadium—Allianz Field—and help this great new franchise and team build on the legacy of soccer in our community,” Wright said in a statement. “Soccer—at both the professional and grass roots level—is the fastest growing sport in the United States… It is an honor to work with this incredible ownership group and staff, and to have the chance to optimize this great sport for fans, partners and all of those who are part of our vibrant, growing and diverse community.”