The club announced its return to the iconic downtown stadium, where their home opener will be versus Atlanta United on March 21, 2020. As earlier reported on Russo Soccer, the plans have been known for months, but the Fire waited to announce the official news on the anniversary of the club’s establishment in 1997.
In an open letter to The Chicago Suntimes Fire owner Joe Mansueto wrote: “On this anniversary of both the Great Chicago Fire and the founding of our team, it is my pledge to deliver a world class club worthy of our city and one that represents all of Chicago – our neighborhoods, our people, our communities.” He added what has by now become a familiar theme about soccer uniting people, saying, “The game we love has a unique ability to unite us all – and when Chicago is united, we can accomplish anything. It is my honor to invite a new generation to stand with us, as we make our stand for you.”
The Fire previously played at Soldier Field from 1998-2001 and 2003-2005 before relocating to SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois, where they have played for the last 14 seasons.
The club did not qualify for the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs and have already seen veteran Bastian Schweinsteiger announce his retirement this offseason.
Moving back to Chicago is a logical and needed step to reconnect with the city. Bridgeview was hard to get to from the urban core of Chicago and few people made the effort.
There was some talk about rebranding the team away from the megapopular NBC TV show and away from the worst disaster in the city’s history. This author thinks that would be a good move, and the rebrand would not even have to be that dramatic to present a stronger, more positive image.
Chicago Sign Spanish Midfielder Álvaro Medran
In other Chicago Fire (the MLS club) news, in early October the Fire completed the signing of the 25-year-old Spanish midfielder. Medran had played the previous five seasons in LaLiga, making 91 appearances and scoring 11 times. He was developed in the Real Madrid youth academy and signed with Los Blancos for the 2014-15 season, making six appearances that season. He was part of the Real Madrid side that won the 2014 Club World Cup.
Medran eventually played for Getafe, Valencia, Deportivo Alavés and spent last season with Rayo Vallecano. Medran was also capped three times for Spain’s U-19 team, and once for their U-21 team.
A free agent, Medran was signed using Targeted Allocation Money (“TAM”) and his contract runs through 2021, followed by two club options. As is the case in MLS. the financial terms of his contract were not disclosed.
The popular Basque city of San Sebastián (Donostia) is well known for its world-class tourist attractions, from La Concha Beach to the Comb of the Wind sculpture to the International Film Festival. This rich culinary and cultural city will also soon have a completed renovation of its football stadium as well. La Liga club Real Sociedad is engaged in a redevelopment of its Estadio Anoeta which will transform it into one of the best venues in Spain.
La ciudad de San Sebastián, en el país vasco es conocida por sus atracciones turísticas de clase mundial. Desde la playa de la Concha hasta el Peine del Viento o el Festival Internacional de Cine, la ciudad está considerada una de las más bellas de España. La remodelación de su estadio de Anoeta está destinada para crear uno de los mejores lugares de España, otro hito clave que atrae a los visitantes a la ciudad vasca.
“Queremos que el estadio sea atractivo no solo para un tipo de aficionado”, dijo el presidente del club, Jokin Aperribay. “No queremos que sea solo para los jóvenes, o solo para las personas mayores o solo para las familias, queremos que sea para todos”.
The Chicago Fire will pay the Village of Bridgeview $60.5 million to break its SeatGeek Stadium lease, per a local report, paving the way for a move to Soldier Field in the short term — and a new home for the MLS team potentially down the road.
The Bridgeview Village Board unanimously agreed to the terms of a buyout of the lease yesterday, providing financial certainty to both the team and the village. Under the terms of the agreement, the Fire will pay $10 million upfront and the balance paid off over the next 15 years. In addition, the team will pay $5 million annually for the use of the stadium for practices. From the Des Plaines Valley News:
Mayor Steve Landek called the agreement “a fair deal for everybody.”
“We like to see the Fire unleash its potential out in the whole market. I think it’s good for the Fire. I think it’s good for Bridgeview. Most of all, it relieves any of our angst over the stadium debt.
“Sometimes, we live and die with the success of the Fire. If they have a good year, we have a good year. If they have a bad year, we all are suffering. This, I think, will be a good idea for everybody,” Landek said.
The agreement, according to Bridgeview officials, allows for SeatGeek Stadium debt to be paid off without the need for additional property taxes. In addition, there’s potentially more revenue down the road if the Fire develops a new stadium within 35 miles of SeatGeek Stadium.
For the Fire, the lease buyout frees the team to make both short-term and new long-term plans. Short term, the team is likely to commit to Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, until a new stadium is prepped. The former Michael Reese Hospital site on Lake Shore Drive, just south of McCormick Place, has been under city ownership since it was purchased as part of a failed bid for the 2016 Olympics. It has not been redeveloped thus far, but a new Fire stadium could be part of the solution. Chicago Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman, who is resigning from his post, mentioned a potential Fire stadium during an interview on Monday. However, he labeled it a “long-term idea” and cautioned that any future redevelopment of the site will be complex, likely requiring multiple uses. Sounds like the sort of large-scale development challenge MLS officials love.
The club’s VIP Corner puts spectators right next to the action in a manner more commonly seen in the US basketball league.
Ideal for sponsors, partners and fans alike, this unique initiative delivers premium services and catering, conference opportunities.
Miami, Fla. (May 31, 2019)
The sight of VIP guests sitting courtside in the NBA is a familiar one, but it is far less common in the world of football. However Spanish football side Real Club Deportivo Mallorca is changing that with its own uniquely crafted VIP offering that puts spectators as close as possible to the pitch of its Estadi de Son Moix stadium.
The Balearic Islands team thought of the concept after visiting the United Ststes and taking in an NBA game at the home of the Phoenix Suns. Mallorca officials remarked about the fact that VIPs at games of US sports leagues are brought closer to the action, instead of being only offered a luxury box high up in the stands. “The VIP area concept is to be close to the field, where you can have a different, closer experience, smell the grass and follow everything that happens in the game,” Maheta Molango, RCD Mallorca’s CEO, remarked. This transforms the match day experience for those in this section.
The VIP Corner at Real Mallorca has room for about 20 people placed in a luxury area on the running track that surrounds the pitch, where they are offered catering, such as freshly made pizzas, and even beverage service during the match. “We wanted to turn our athletics track into an opportunity” explained Molango. “It has had a great reception from our fans.”
The goal of the VIP Corner is to offer a sense of exclusivity and a unique experience. A ticket in the VIO Corner also provides extra value. At the end of the game, the VIPs are treated to priority entry to what the club calls “the third half.” This is a meet and greet event where they can chat with the players and coaching staff and complete their memorable day with autographs or photos.
The results over the two years since its inception have been very positive. “We first implemented this initiative two years ago, testing it in the Second Division B and the numbers were very good,” Molango noted.
The club offers the VIP Corner to its corporate sponsors. “We have two types of clients, those that buy seats individually and companies that use VIP Corner as an opportunity to do business and to entertain customers and employees. Some companies buy the whole VIP Corner for exclusive use during a match. The feedback has been very positive here. People appreciate the creativity and originality that they have not seen in other football stadiums.”
Added Value To Partners
One of the positive attributes of having a stadium element like the VIP Corner is that is can be used even when there is not a football match taking place.
“It is also used for corporate events during other days,” revealed Molango. “It’s a perfect place to hold corporate events, from networking to business conferences, training courses, colloquiums and end-of-the-year events, among others.” Adjacent to the VIP Corner is a large indoor room which is attached to the club’s press room. This can also be used to ensure the club is maximizing revenue potential at the stadium throughout the year.
Mallorca receives millions of vacationers annually and the opportunities this initiative presents makes perfect sense in the eyes of Molango and create clear opportunities for the club’s partners. “We aim to take advantage of the 15 million tourists who come to Mallorca every year,” he said. “One package that we offer allows the VIP fans to be collected at their hotel by a driver, they see the game in the VIP Corner, they take part in “the third half” and then they have the option to choose one of our partner restaurants and be transported there by our driver. With this experience, the visitor can a plan for the whole day. We’re also helping sponsors to show off their product, which is something they value a lot.”
As if this writing, Mallorca sit 5th in the table in the Spanish second division, La Liga 123, and are in position for the promotion playoffs for a spot in La Liga. Promotion would only increase the value of the VIP Corner.
Football fans and visiting businesses alike now have another reason to visit the Islas Baleares. Initiatives such as these demonstrate how ideas from different sports and even different countries can lead to innovations that present a fresh take on the match day experience.
Informació en Catalá:
L’Estadi de Son Moix és un recinte esportiu situat a la ciutat de Palma construït amb motiu de la celebració de la Universiada 1999 a Palma. És l’estadi és on disputa els partits el RCD Mallorca des de l’any 1999, ja que el club té un acord amb l’ajuntament de la ciutat per a la seva explotació amb finalitats esportives per un període de 50 anys. L’estadi està situat en el Camí dels reis s/n
Té capacitat per 23.142 espectadors i té unes dimensions de 105 x 68 metres. L’estadi disposa de 2000 focus de llums, zona de premsa de 150 metres quadrats i capacitat per albergar uns 300 periodistes. La zona d’aparcaments disposa d’1.500 m² per a unitats mòbils de televisió, 40 places per a premsa i 2700 per a públic en general.
The Son Moix Stadium is a sports center located in the city of La Palma built to celebrate the Universiada 1999. It is the home stadium of RCD Mallorca since 1999. The club has an agreement with the city council for use for a period of 50 years.
Miami, Fla. (Saturday, May 18, 2019) – Kenneth Russo
The first in a multi-part series that takes a look at soccer specific stadium projects, beginning with those around MLS. I’ll explore what is unique about each, various features, or challenges. In some cases the projects have been completed; in other they are still planned, or are still nothing but a vision.