If you doubt that Wirtz is the consummate networker, just glance inside the United Center, where players of one sort (Emanuel, Pritzker, Sacks) hobnob near players of another (Rose, Noah, Boozer). But “his clout would be significant whether or not he owned the Blackhawks or the United Center,” says Marc Ganis, president of the Chicago-based consulting firm SportsCorp. Thanks to Wirtz’s prowess in building relationships among boldfaced names, his banking, real-estate, beverage, and insurance empire is prospering. He’s currently building a $70 million distribution center in Cicero to house his $1.5 billion liquor wholesale business, one of the largest in the nation.
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Photograph: Charles Cherney/Chicago Tribune