Major League Soccer team Chicago Fire will play Atlanta United in its first game back at Soldier Field, in a nationally-televised fixture on March 21, 2020.
The announcement was made on the day that the Fire confirmed its return to the downtown stadium, on the October 8 anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, as well as the establishment of the club in 1997.
Chicago Fire owner Joe Mansueto, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, Chicago Park District CEO Michael Kelly, and MLS Commissioner Don Garber attended the announcement at Soldier Field.
“We’re really thrilled and honored to be calling this our home next year,” Mansueto said.
“We could not have dreamed of a better new owner to lead the resurgence of the sport in this region,” Garber said of Mansueto.
It was also announced that season ticket prices will not increase in 2020 and the 68 Fire supporters who have held season tickets since the club’s first season will receive their tickets for free next year.
Mansueto is confident the move from the SeatGeek Stadium in suburban Bridgeview, Illinois, to Soldier Field will be a success. “I’m meeting with the management team every week and will do until the debut of Soldier Field to make sure that we have a successful transition and a successful launch,” he told SportBusiness.
“There will be some marketing campaigns that will create a lot of excitement and a lot of buzz. And we have some great plans to make it a really exciting match-day experience for our fans and making Soldier Field just a great environment to see a soccer game, and making it fun. That’s our challenge now, I don’t admit it will be easy. It will take some spending to get it done but I have every confidence that we can execute on that,” he said.
The Fire, though, will return to Soldier Field without star attraction German World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has announced his retirement from soccer.