Occupation:Co-owner, United Center; chairman, Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago baron’s overlapping spheres of influence—real estate, his $2 billion spirits distributorship, and sports—make him a perennial power player, but he moves up the list five spots post–Stanley Cup. He spoke to Chicago on January 26.
What’s your day job?
I kid about it, but the beverage side is really my day job, and hockey is my night job. [Blackhawks CEO] John McDonough and his folks do all the day-to-day running. I help set the policy and work with them. But players never see me walking around the locker room. That’s not my spot.
What’s the phone call you don’t want to get at 11 p.m.?
That we’ve lost a [beverage] supplier line through no fault of our own, because essentially you lost a beauty contest. But it affects many, many people’s lives [Wirtz’s distributorship employs 3,000].
What is your economic outlook on Chicago’s real-estate market?
Business has grown on the rental side because there’s been so little movement on the condominium side. I think you have a whole new generation of young adults who are very skeptical and would just as soon rent. The paradigm has completely changed. I think it’s going to be OK, but I don’t see this year as that much better than last.
A fan just asked you to sign the inside of his jacket, next to Bobby Hull’s autograph. What’s been the strangest request?
A fella had a rubber head with spiked fake hair, and he wanted me to sign his head.
I absolutely did.
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