11 Sep Chicago Fire on track to play at Soldier Field again
The Chicago Park District Board has voted to let leadership hash out the final details of an agreement with the Chicago Fire to bring its home games back to Soldier Field.
Park officials told board members today that they began discussions this year to bring the team back in time for spring’s 2020 Major League Soccer season.
The Fire played its first games at Soldier Field before moving to suburban Bridgeview in 2006, but that relationship has since soured, with low attendance for the team and high debt for the village. In July, the Fire announced they would pay the village $60.5 million to exit their lease, which runs through 2036. The team will also contribute $5 million to “refurbish and expand the existing soccer facilities around SeatGeek Stadium.”
The initial term for the Fire at Soldier Field is for three years, with the ability to renew for a total of 11 years. The team will pay the Park District a use fee and reimbursement for operating expenses for each Fire game, a facility fee for each Fire game attendee and a capital improvement attendance fee. The team and the district will share net revenue from parking fees, food and beverage concession sales, and merchandise sales.
“If we have outstanding issues, I will bring those issues back to the board members individually or at whole before we execute the agreement,” Park District CEO Michael Kelly said.
Kelly said park officials would be happy if the Fire maintained their current attendance—between 10,000 and 15,000 attendees at Bridgeview—but “we’ll be happier if they achieve more than 25,000,” Kelly said.