Bears ‘Have a Plan’ for Future Ownership of Team: Report

Virginia McCaskey

Getty Bears owner Virginia McCaskey has plans to keep the team in her family for many years to come, according to a recent report.

The Chicago Bears have been in the Halas family for over a century, and according to Sportico, the franchise may remain with the family for quite some time.

Virginia Halas McCaskey, 99, daughter of franchise founder and Hall of Fame former Bears player/coach George Halas, took over the team in 1983 shortly after her father died. She has owned over 80% of the team since then, and a September 13 report from Sportico’s Eben Nova-Williams and Kurt Badenhausen has revealed that the organization already has a plan in place to keep the team in the family when she passes away.

“The Bears, whose owners declined to comment for this story, have a plan to keep the team in the family when Virginia McCaskey dies, according to multiple people familiar with the matter,” Nova-Williams and Kurt Badenhausen reported. “Specifics of that plan weren’t provided, but would require re-consolidating control of at least 30% of the team, which is now worth $5 billion, into a single wing of the McCaskey family. It could also involve the sale of some equity.”

Bears Likely Have Well-Thought Out Succession Plan

Virginia’s son, George Halas McCaskey, is currently the team chairman, and he leads a group of family members, including Patrick McCaskey, Brian J. McCaskey and Ed McCaskey Jr. on the board of directors. Current President and CEO Ted Phillips, Andrew McKenna, businessman and chairman emeritus of McDonald’s restaurant chain and billionaire/retired CEO Patrick Ryan are the largest non-family shareholders, per the team’s official website.

“Current NFL bylaws state that a single lineal family (not necessarily a single person) must control 30% of each franchise, which the 99-year-old McCaskey does via that voting trust,” Spotico reported.

“When she dies, the voting trust expires, and the Bears ownership will be thinly spread over more than a dozen Halas heirs, without a single person or descendant anywhere close to that 30% threshold. Bears ownership appears to have cleared the first two hurdles of NFL succession planning — minimize tax impact and create a framework for the heirs. The final, and often most complex, step is successfully executing that plan when the time comes.”

All 32 NFL teams submit succession plans to the league office every year, so there’s no doubt the Bears have been planning what to do in the event of Virginia’s passing for some time now.

Size of McCaskey Family Could Provide Roadblocks

At 99, McCaskey is the currently the oldest and longest-tenured owner in the NFL, and she has made it clear that keeping the team in the family is of paramount importance to her. She doesn’t give many interviews, but she told Dan Pompei of The Athletic back in 2016 that selling the team has “never occurred to” her, also saying the Bears will remain in her family “until the second coming.”

The team matriarch has over 20 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren, so determining who owns the franchise in the future could prove difficult, however.

“More heirs means more people who might have claim to the team — and more people who might feel snubbed by their lack of involvement, or want to sell that stake to pursue other interests,” the Sportico report stated. “The Bears are a prime example. George Halas had two children, one of whom predeceased him, and 13 grandchildren. Virginia McCaskey already has more than 20 grandchildren and more than two dozen great grandkids.”

Fans of the team have been clamoring for the McCaskey family to sell the franchise for years now, but it’s clear they have zero plans to do that.

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