In an announcement made at U.S. Cellular Arena on April 3, Jim Lindenberg sold the Milwaukee Wave Professional Indoor Soccer Team and its 501(c)3 charitable arm Wave of Hope to president and chief executive officer Sue Black. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Reached by phone after the announcement, Black told OnMilwaukee.com she and Lindenberg had ongoing discussions about the future of the team and talks eventually evolved to include a transfer of ownership.
It was not Black's original intent to buy the team, however.
"No, no. It just kind of kept evolving," she told OnMilwaukee.com. "At the end of the day, Jim's main concern was the future of the team. It's always been paramount to him that the Wave be successful and he wanted to make sure that at some point, when he was going to step away, it was going to be the right person. It just kind of happened."
Black then thanked the city and the many people who have supported her through her years in the parks department and now with the Wave.
"I can’t think of anyone better to continue to lead this very proud and successful franchise," Lindenberg said in a statement. "Sue has many connections in Wisconsin, is a very hard worker, and has a very successful track record. The future of the Milwaukee Wave looks promising."
"Just like the team, you put the hard work in on the front end and then you reap the rewards on the back end," Black said. "I think that's what Jim saw when I first came in here and now the second phase of this team begins."
Lindenberg purchased the Milwaukee Wave in 2009 from Charlie Krause. Season tickets, corporate sponsorships, merchandise sales, game attendance, and school day attendance have all increased every single year.
The Milwaukee Wave is the longest running soccer franchise in North America. The team is led by coach Keith Tozer who has been with the Wave for 21 years and has received nine MISL Coach of the Year Honors.
"I want to thank Jim," Tozer said in a statement. "He proved that dedication, hard work, and commitment can produce success both on the field and off. We wish him and his family much success and best wishes. In the short period of time working with Sue as president/CEO it became very clear and obvious of her remarkable talents as a very smart business woman. The announcement is a major milestone for the Wave for so many reasons and I look forward to helping Sue in any way I can to help the future of the Wave."
Prior to joining the Wave, there was much speculation as to whether Black would leave the city and state for another parks job, but this move cements her status in the Cream City.
"Which is good - it's right where I want to be," she said.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.