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Peter Wilt, born in McHenry, Illinois, is a soccer executive who was the first President and General Manager of the Chicago Fire in Major League Soccer, led an effort to bring an expansion MLS franchise to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and maintains strong connection to the sport of soccer in the Midwest, Chicago in particular. Wilt is most known for his work with the Chicago Fire, where he gained a reputation for being a fan-friendly businessman in the soccer world.
He is also known as the Patron Saint of The Highbury, a sports bar in Milwaukee where he is known to appear frequently, where he invented Schlabst, Milwaukee's Black and Tan. A mixture of bottled Schlitz beer and canned Pabst, poured into a pint glass. He also regularly spends time at Club Lago, an Italian restaurant in Chicago and has been known to regard it as his second office. Wilt was known for answering questions from fans through the BigSoccer Internet message boards, and now maintains his own blog on Chicago soccer issues.
In his seven seasons as Chicago's GM, the Fire won one MLS Cup, three U.S. Open Cups and one Supporters' Shield. In 2005, Wilt was fired by Anschutz Entertainment Group, the team's owner, a move which was protested by fans in Chicago. The following year, he became the chief executive officer of Milwaukee Professional Soccer (a group bidding to bring an MLS franchise to Milwaukee), but left the position to become CEO of the Chicago Red Stars Chicago's Women's Professional Soccer team that started play in 2009. After one season, Wilt left the Red Stars for a front office position with the Milwaukee Wave. After one season with the Wave, Wilt founded the now defunct expansion MISL side Chicago Riot.
In late 2012, Wilt led an effort with a group of Indianapolis, Indiana investors headed by Ersal Ozdemir to determine the viability of the market to support a North American Soccer League team in the city with eventual hopes to join MLS. On January 16, 2013, the league awarded Indianapolis the league's twelfth franchise, naming Wilt the team President that day. The team, known as Indy Eleven, began play in the 2014 season.
In January 2016, Wilt stepped down from his role with the Indy 11 to pursue an NASL team in Chicago. He later announced that works were in progress to secure short-term and long-term stadium options combined with exploring investors and supporter ownership structures.
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- Lynch, Amy. "5 Questions: Indy Eleven's Peter Wilt shares love of soccer". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- Hruby, Patrick (2003-05-21). "It came from the message boards". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
- "Fire Fire Peter Wilt, Fans Protest At Season Opener". Chicagoist. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- "JEFF BELSKUS NAMED INDY ELEVEN PRESIDENT". Indy Eleven. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- Tolmich, Ryan. "Peter Wilt looking to revitalize soccer in Chicago with NASL project". Sports by Ives. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- Kass, John. "Chicago needs a second soccer team". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- Rivera, Guillermo. "NASL looking to expand in Chicago - new ownership group has expressed interest". Chicago Now. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
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