The Chicago Fire’s time in suburban Bridgeview, Illinois might be drawing to a close. Multiple published reports indicate the club, which has struggled to attract and maintain fans, might be looking to return to its original home in the city of Chicago.
The Fire are currently tied to a 30-year lease at SeatGeek Stadium, which is owned by the Village of Bridgeview. The Fire moved to the soccer-specific facility in 2006 and have a lease until 2036. When the facility opened in 2006 it was among the premier soccer-specific-stadiums in MLS.
However, since its opening several new state-of-the-art facilities have opened. The inaccessibility of Bridgeview, which is located about 15 miles southwest of Downtown Chicago, is also a problem.
The town of Bridgeview planned to make the stadium the centerpiece of further development in the municipality, however that has not materialised and the town is now in deep debt thanks in large part to the stadium.
In February, MLS Commissioner Don Garber indicated the league was actively looking at finding a different stadium solution in the Chicago market. Last year, Morningstar Inc. founder Joe Mansueto bought 49 per cent of the Fire and is thought to be the driving force behind the potential move back to Soldier Field according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Fire, which began play in 1998, played six of its first eight seasons at Soldier Field, which was renovated during the two seasons the Fire did not play at the stadium (2002-2003). The club relocated to Bridgeview in 2006.