Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire are stumping up $65 million to allow them to leave SeatGeek Stadium and play their matches in other venues in the city.
The soccer club and the Village of Bridgeview have agreed to an amended stadium lease. The deal also allows the Chicago Fire to play future home games and conduct team operations in other Chicagoland sports venues.
The team is rumoured to be exploring a return to Soldier Field on a temporary basis before a soccer specific stadium is built. The club said in a statement:
As the dramatic growth of soccer in Chicago and the nation continues, this new agreement allows Bridgeview and the Chicago Fire to better serve both fans and players of all levels.
The Chicago Fire will contribute $5 million to the Village to be used to refurbish and expand the existing soccer facilities around SeatGeek Stadium. Also, under the terms of the agreement Bridgeview would receive $60.5 million over the remaining term of the lease, including an upfront payment of $10 million.
The team will continue its valued partnership with Bridgeview by training at the facility and by operating Chicago Fire Youth development programs there.
Chicago Fire owner and chairman Andrew Hauptman said:
We are grateful to Mayor Landek and the residents of Bridgeview for our partnership. We’re glad we are able to strengthen our relationship while exposing even more fans to our Club and world-class soccer in a more centrally located Chicago stadium.
Today marks the next chapter in the growth of the Club and the opportunity to play for more fans than ever in one of the world’s great cities.
The Chicago Fire has planted deep roots in the Chicago soccer community. Almost 20,000 players participate in Chicago Fire Rec Soccer and nearly 16,000 young players participate in its Chicago Fire Juniors programs. The CIBC Fire Pitch attracts more than 300,000 visitors annually to its centre, expanding youth and recreational soccer programming for all ages.