Minnesota United announced Tuesday that Shari Ballard will become the club’s new chief executive officer at the end of the current season.
A former Best Buy executive, Ballard is a long-time resident and respected leader in the Twin Cities community. She will replace Chris Wright, who it was announced last month would be stepping down following the 2021 season.
Ballard is the latest woman to take up a leadership position in MLS, joining Chicago Fire FC president Ishwara Glassman Chrein, D.C. United president of business operations Danita Johnson and longtime Vancouver Whitecaps FC chief operating officer Rachel Lewis.
"Shari is an extraordinary individual whose personal character, commitment to people and our community, passion for sports and exceptional experience leading and working with others to grow and strengthen a locally-based, international company and brand is without reproach," Minnesota United managing partner Bill McGuire said in a team release.
"Her accomplishments speak for themselves, and I am humbled and proud that the MNUFC family – still young but having already accomplished much, and with so many engaged and passionate individuals, outstanding corporate and community partners, the greatest fans in MLS today, and values that emanate from the great sport of soccer and its global lessons – is something that attracted her to help us realize even greater things and relevance in the future.”
Ballard worked in Best Buy her entire professional career and retired in 2019 after holding the position of President of Multichannel Retail for Best Buy Co. Inc., responsible for all US Best Buy stores, e-commerce, Best Buy Mexico and the company’s real estate strategy. She first joined the company in 1993 to work in a local Best Buy store after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, Flint.
“If you had told the 10-year-old version of me that I’d be asked to join a professional sports team and help them continue to build a winning organization, I would have been elated. It’s no different today," Ballard said. "I can’t wait to get started.
“I am very appreciative of everything that has been done to develop Minnesota United as a competitive team playing the world’s most popular sport here in our home state, but also as an important and valued asset for our community and its people. This is a truly inspiring organization – and one with a community-wide sense of pride and enthusiasm surrounding it. I’m honored to join a team that is explicit in its core values, and one that strives to provide something about which everyone can continue to be proud. It is a privilege to work at ensuring that we are a competitive and exciting team, that we continue to provide an exceptional experience for fans and all of those associated with MNUFC, and that we foster and build on our relationship with the fans and our vibrant, growing and diverse community.”
After joining the league in 2017, Minnesota reached the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in 2019 before reaching the Western Conference Final last year. Under head coach Adrian Heath, they currently sit in fifth place in the Western Conference with 26 points from 17 games.