Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago Bulls, had revolutionized a team that was once struggling to have enough fans to fill the stadium. He also owns the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise Chicago White Sox and had done a similar revamp to this team with his ‘Midas Touch.’ This could happen thanks to his impressive business acumen and a massive deal with American Express in the 1980s. Reinsdorf started as a tax attorney with the Internal Revenue Service and went on to specialize in real estate partnership tax shelters. Later in 1973, he founded Balcor, which was sold to American Express for $53,000,000 in 1982.
Thanks to this deal, he became a co-owner of the Chicago Bulls before buying out the franchise for $16 million in 1985. Under his aegis, he could pay some of the best players, such as Michael Jordan, and a coach like Phil Jackson. Through the 80s, Reinsdorf built a Bulls ready to challenge for the championship and ultimately dominate the next decade of the 90s.
Jerry Reinsdorf and his ick for sports made him acquire Chicago-based sports teams
As a child, Reinsdorf always had an ick for sports, and it didn’t matter if he pursued a career in law and finance. After serving as a tax attorney for the IRS, he started his private practice and made huge profits in real estate partnership tax shelters. This was when he formed Balcor, a company that would raise $650 million to fund under-construction projects.
Reinsdorf had made enough money to acquire the Chicago White Sox in 1981. He purchased the franchise for $19 million and brought some ingenious changes to the core of its management. This resulted in relative success for the White Sox, although it came at a deliberate financial cost.
Acquiring the Chicago Bulls
The next step in the field was to acquire the NBA team, Chicago Bulls. In 1984, the Bulls would average only about 6,300 fans in a 17,000-capacity stadium. Reinsdorf knew he had to grab this opportunity and build upon this chance. George Steinbrenner, the then-principal owner of the New York Yankees, was also part owner of the Bulls. In the book Jordan Rules, Sam Smith described how Reinsdorf convinced Steinbrenner to sell all his shares to him. Smith, elaborating on this incident, wrote:
“George Steinbrenner, then the New York Yankees’ principal owner, was a Bulls part-owner then and, by chance, mentioned to Reinsdorf that he was embarrassed by the team and wanted to get out. Reinsdorf said he wanted in, but didn’t say why. A deal was quickly put together; Reinsdorf would acquire more than half the team’s stock for about $9 million. He then watched as NBA revenues soared, aided in no small part by one player, Michael Jordan, who was just joining the Bulls when Reinsdorf bought in. Chicago Stadium was now a complete and constant sellout, and, all in all, Reinsdorf was feeling pretty good.”
This was when Reindorf, alongside general manager Jerry Krause, made some historic decisions. He had drafted Horace Grant, Scottie Pippen, and Michael Jordan to start forming the future Bulls dynasty. In 1989, he hired Phil Jackson, under whom the Bulls would win two three-peats in the 1990s.
All these decisions proved worth everything. The Bulls would sell out every game from 1987 till Jordan’s retirement in 1999. Indeed, it was Reinsdorf’s far-sightedness that helped in scaling Bulls’ relative success that it enjoys to this day.
How much are Jerry Reinsdorf and the Chicago Bulls now worth?
His business decisions proved worthy for Jerry Reinsdorf, as he now has a net worth of $1.7 billion. He has been an influential figure amongst basketball owners, bringing monumental changes to the league, such as instituting salary caps and revenue sharing.
After acquiring the Bulls’ controlling stake in 1984, Reinsdrof has led the team to six NBA championships and a net worth of $2.5 billion.