The FC Kansas City ownership change is complete.
Set to enter its fifth season in the National Women’s Soccer League, FC Kansas City has been sold to Elam Baer, a Minnesota businessman who serves as the CEO for North Central Equity.
Since its inception, the club had been owned by Chris Likens and his two sons, Greg Likens and Brad Likens, along with Brian Budzinski. The latter three also own the Kansas City Comets and have been in a legal dispute over that arrangement since August. Baer is not interested in purchasing the Comets.
Baer previously told The Star that he has no plans of moving FCKC out of Kansas City and intends to place the bulk of his focus on revenue-generating practices.
“When you look at the enormous on-field success this team has had, I don’t see any reason why I would go in there and make a lot of changes,” Baer said earlier this month. “The bottom line is we need to sell more tickets and get more sponsorship revenue. If you accomplish those two things, a lot of other problems are solved pretty easily.”
The previous FC Kansas City ownership group came under scrutiny late last year after a series of a sexually-suggestive emails was released to the media, prompting a league investigation. Shortly thereafter, the group acknowledged it had put the club up for sale.
“With Elam and his partners committed to the club and our region, I know our organization will be stronger than ever and that this move is not only good for the team and our fans, but the league as a whole,” Brad Likens said in a statement. “While there are no certainties in sports, I know FC Kansas City will take the field on opening day poised to compete for another NWSL championship.”
FC Kansas City has won two NWSL championships but missed the postseason last year for the first time in franchise history. Baer confirmed that coach Vlatko Andonovski will return for his fifth season and be responsible for assembling the club’s roster, with oversight from newly appointed general manager Jean-Yves Viardin. Previous general manager Huw Williams resigned last month, citing the need to focus on his company GSI Sports.
Baer and Viardin will fill out the front office staff for FC Kansas City, which currently shares a staff with the Comets.
Baer said some employees would retain their positions with FC Kansas City but others have requested to stay with the Comets.
“On behalf of the league and its owners, I welcome Elam to the NWSL and look forward to working with him and his partners as a new era begins for FC Kansas City,” NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush said in a news release. “Elam is committed to strengthening FC Kansas City’s roots throughout the entire Kansas City metropolitan area and beyond.”