Chicago Fire: Details of the club’s return to Soldier Field

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Fire have reportedly reached an agreement to leave their current home in Bridgeview and return to their roots at Soldier Field. Here’s what that means for the club.

The Chicago Fire experienced much of their success during the early years along the lake at historic Soldier Field, and that’s where the Fire will reportedly call home once again beginning next year.

After moving to then-Toyota Park (now SeatGeek Stadium) in 2006, the Fire have failed to advance past the Knockout Round of the Major League Soccer Playoffs since 2009 after three-straight Conference Finals. Times have been rough for the Men in Red.

The return to Chicago is sure to be bittersweet, as the Fire depart what was only the fourth soccer-specific stadium built in the United States. As part of the agreement to break their lease, the Fire will pay $60.5 million to the Village of Bridgeview to help the city pay off the massive amounts of debt that have accumulated over the years.

On top of the $60.5 million payment, the Fire will pay an additional $5 million to continue to utilize the team’s practice fields next to SeatGeek Stadium.

Under the team’s lease, the Fire were to remain in Bridgeview until 2036.

Unfortunately, the club still has plenty of obstacles to overcome in order to return to soccer glory. If the club were to build a different soccer-specific stadium within 35 miles of SeatGeek Stadium, the team will pay the village an additional unspecified amount of money.

Although it’s unclear whether the team will eventually seek to build a new grounds closer to or in Chicago, rumors have linked the club to a future home on the South Side on the former Michael Reese Hospital site.

In addition to a potential soccer stadium on the South Side, developers had previously sought to build a 20,000 capacity stadium in the Lincoln Yards development on the city’s North Side. Had it been constructed, the stadium would have the same capacity as the Fire’s current home in Bridgeview. The stadium was rejected by the ward’s alderman, Brian Hopkins.

Although the Fire were never truly linked to the stadium as it was intended to be the home of a United Soccer League team chaired by Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, perhaps the team could have explored sharing the stadium in the future.

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Regardless of whether or not the team opts to build a new stadium down the road, fans will no longer have to trek to the suburbs to watch the Fire in less than a year. Whether that helps or harms the team at all remains to be seen as the Fire are still struggling on the pitch thanks to management and lack of talent.

The Fire currently sit one point out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.