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 show which played the old Center Theatre in New York for several seasons.
He was a major factor in the growth of the National Hockey League, through his ownership of the Chicago Black Hawks. He and James D. Norris purchased the near bankrupt franchise in 1952 and though it went through rough moments, Wirtz and Norris turned the franchise around and won back the fans they had lost. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1971.
Arthur Wirtz died of cancer at age 82.