Arthur Wirtz

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Arthur Wirtz
Born Arthur Michael Wirtz
(1901-01-23)January 23, 1901
Chicago, Illinois
Died 21 July 1983(1983-07-21) (aged 82)
Chicago, Illinois
Cause of death Cancer
Residence Chicago, Illinois
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation Founder of Wirtz Corporation
Owner of:
Chicago Stadium,
Bismarck Hotel,
Chicago Black Hawks,
Chicago Bulls
Home town Chicago, Illinois
Children Bill Wirtz Michael Wirtz
Family Rocky Wirtz

Arthur Michael Wirtz (January 23, 1901 – July 21, 1983) was a powerful figure in sports and arena operation. He was the founder of Wirtz Corporation, a holding company that owned Chicago Stadium, the Bismarck Hotel in Chicago, the Chicago Black Hawks, and the Chicago Bulls. He was the father of the late Black Hawks owner Bill Wirtz, and grandfather of current Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz.


Born in Chicago, Illinois, Wirtz went into sports and arena ownership because of his real estate investments. He was a real estate salesman in Chicago after graduating from the University of Michigan in 1923.

Wirtz was an important showbiz figure with his presentation of the Sonja Henie Ice Show, which toured arenas for many years. He was also involved with the Henie-produced ice shows which played the Center Theatre at Rockefeller Center in New York for several seasons.


Wirtz took over the ownership of Ice Follies and Holiday on Ice, which he later sold to Irvin and Kenneth Feld.

He was a major factor in the growth of the National Hockey League. In 1929, he formed a partnership with grain dealer James E. Norris. Three years later, they teamed up to buy the floundering Detroit Falcons and renamed them the Red Wings. In 1946, he and James D. Norris helped Bill Tobin purchase the nearly bankrupt Chicago Blackhawks. Wirtz continued to help run the Red Wings. In summer of 1951, Arthur Wirtz left Detroit to join the (Chicago) board of directors. In the summer of 1972, he purchased the Bulls from team founder Dick Klein. He owned both the Blackhawks and the Bulls until his death.


He succeeded Tobin as President in 1954 and quickly turned the franchise around, winning the Stanley Cup in 1961. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1971.


Arthur Wirtz died of cancer on July 21, 1983, at age 82 in his Chicago home.

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