The Chicago Fire has moved a significant step closer to playing home games at Soldier Field.
The Major League Soccer team announced that it had signed an amended stadium lease for SeatGeek Stadium in suburban Bridgeview, Illinois, that will allow the team to play home games and conduct team operations “in other Chicagoland sports venues”.
As part of the deal, the Fire will pay the Village of Bridgeview $60.5m over the over the remainder of the agreement, which runs through 2036, with an upfront payment of $10m.
The team will also pay Bridgeview $5m to help refurbish and expand the existing soccer facilities next to SeatGeek Stadium, where the Fire will continue to train and operate youth development programs.
Additionally, the Fire will make a “significant contribution” towards the development of a multi-sport recreation and entertainment center in Bridgeview.
The Fire played home games at Soldier Field, the home of the National Football League’s Chicago Bears, from its 1998 debut until the 2006 season before moving to the SeatGeek Stadium, formerly known as Toyota Park.
It is believed the team will look to play temporarily at Soldier Field and build a new soccer-specific stadium in downtown Chicago.
The Fire currently draws the fewest fans in MLS, with an announced average attendance in 2019 of just 11,417.