[UPDATE] The board has approved (5-0) the resolution authorizing the finalization and entry of a lease between the Chicago Fire and Chicago Parks to have Fire games played at Soldier Field.
The saga that has seen the Chicago Fire mired in a loveless marriage for over ten years looks like it’s finally headed towards a divorce.
Reports surfaced a couple of days ago that the Fire had reached an agreement with the Chicago Park District to move their Major League Soccer matches to Soldier Field, which is where they initially began their existence back in 1998. The tentative agreement would see the Fire sign a three-year lease with two option terms of three-years, and an additional two, one-year options.
If that seems a bit convoluted, it is. But the background is that the Fire are exploring their own stadium solution, and structuring the option terms this way prevents them from being stuck in a(nother) long-term lease, in the event they are able to find a stadium solution in a reasonably timely manner. If they aren’t able to figure something out, they know they have a home for at least the next 10 seasons.
The Fire previously signed a lease with Bridgeview which didn’t expire until after the 2037 season. That lease…was not favorable to the Fire and MLS, and severely hamstrung their ability to make money and be relevant in the Chicago market (the fact that they’ve been largely terrible on the field hasn’t helped matters).
Even with the issues with on-field performance, MLS realized the terms of the lease and location of the stadium was not a long-term solution, given the demographic makeup of the MLS fanbases generally. In July 2019, a deal was struck to let the Fire out of their deal with Bridgeview. That deal provided them a way to get away from Bridgeview, but was obviously contingent on them finding a suitable place to play (they maintained the ability to stay at Bridgeview if they couldn’t work something out).
Now the Fire appear set return to their ancestral home. We’ll see if that fixes what ails them. This agreement is still subject to a vote by Chicago Parks, so the terms could change.