The MLS team has been moving from stadium to stadium in the Chicago area.
Is Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot facing the prospect of possibly losing another sports franchise that rents out the city owned Soldier Field? The ownership group of the Major League Soccer Chicago Fire franchise may be thinking about leaving the Chicago stadium and look for greener pastures somewhere in Chicago. But as in the case of many big cities, finding a patch of land within Chicago could be a problem as land is scarce. The Chicago franchise seemingly has not settled on a permanent home in its 24 years of existence. The team started play in 1998 and in its first four seasons of play, Soldier Field was the team’s home. But the stadium was unavailable because of a renovation that was designed to keep the National Football League’s Chicago Bears franchise in the stadium. The Fire ownership played two years in 2002 and 2003 in Naperville. In 2004, Fire ownership cut a deal with Bridgeview, Illinois officials after Bridgeview officials decided to build a stadium-village with a soccer facility as the center of a development plan. Bridgeview taxpayers were on the hook for the $98 million stadium. The Chicago Fire franchise moved into the facility in 2006 after two seasons at Soldier Field. Bridgeview is a study in what can go wrong with a stadium-village plan as the village part was never developed. In 2019, Fire ownership paid Bridgeview $60.5 million to break the team’s 30-year lease with the municipality. Bridgeview taxpayers were left with a quarter of a billion debt on the stadium and saw property taxes rise.
New Fire ownership moved the business back to Soldier Field in time for the 2020 season with the team and the city negotiating an 11-year lease with three three-year segments and two one-year extensions. The first of the three-year segments is over, its renegotiation time.
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