Chris Wright, Minnesota United FC
Saint Paul, Minn.
As the Official Bank of Minnesota United, Bell Bank connects with fans and helps honor the people who make our community great. At every match, Minnesota United and Bell name L’Etoiles du Nord, the “stars” of community service. Loon fans also vote on the Man of the Match, with Bell Bank making a Pay It Forward donation to the winning player’s charity of choice.
We asked Minnesota United FC CEO Chris Wright a little more about the partnership and why he appreciates working with Bell.
How Minnesota United decided to work with Bell:
We endeavored to go down a path to find the right partner for MNUFC, and we met with a lot of people, but I was so incredibly and significantly impressed when I met with Michael Solberg (Bell’s president and CEO) and Todd Lee (Bell’s EVP of banking and commercial lending) about their vision for Bell Bank.
They talked about their vision over the next 10 years to grow the bank to become the number 1 privately held bank in the country. When you have visions like that for your company, you need partners to align with. I thought about the analogy with Minnesota United and where we are as a young club, where we want to be in 10 years, how we want to be respected inside of the world’s game, inside of soccer, inside of this country, and I thought, ‘Who else would you want to go on a journey like that with other than somebody who aspirationally has similar goals for their company?’
Why Minnesota United has stayed with Bell:
I found them to be incredibly visionary, incredibly artful in terms of negotiating the relationship that best benefited Bell Bank, but at the same time, they really understood what Minnesota United needed out of a relationship like that.
I really do believe that we’ve found the right financial services provider for our club for the next 10 years.
What is it like to work with Bell:
Bell Bank has some incredibly talented people at multiple levels, and I think it starts with your CEO. He has an amazing vision for the bank. He has an amazing sort of purpose for the bank. He speaks to the values of the bank; he speaks to how you hire people. Every time we meet, I’m always amazed by his attention to detail around the smallest things that can advance where Bell Bank is going. For him it starts with the people inside the bank. I’ve heard him say that if you get it right on the inside, you have a chance of getting it right on the outside.
What I tell others about Bell:
We’re in a fascinating industry in that we bring people from all over the world to play and represent Minnesota United. I believe we have 13 different nationalities on our roster today. It’s significantly important to us that when we onboard people, we do it the right way. A big part of when they come to a foreign country is the financial piece – how quickly they can establish things like bank accounts, credit cards, lines of credit, mortgages, car loans.
What it means to work with a community-driven bank:
We have to be a significant piece of this community, and to partner with people who see corporate social responsibility as something that they must be part of is heartwarming to people like me. I want to have partnerships with people like that.
Why the Man of the Match program is important:
All of our players are competitive; they’re men of character. They came from winning teams even before they came here. They’re hoping to transform Minnesota United into a championship team, so they go out, and they play hard.
When awarded the Bell Bank Man of the Match, our players are given $1,000 that they can donate to a charity of their choice. Probably the hardest part of the Bell Bank Man of the Match program is nominating the 3 players who are voted on, on social media, as the man of the match.
What we’ve got to do through the game, through soccer, we’ve got to find ways to inspire and unite the people in our community. It’s very similar to what Bell Bank is doing through the Pay It Forward program.