Major League Soccer franchise Chicago Fire has reached an agreement with the Village of Bridgeview for an amended lease deal at SeatGeek Stadium that will allow the team to play future games at other sports venues in the area.
The deal includes a “significant” contribution from the team towards the development of a multi-sport recreation and entertainment centre in Bridgeview, where SeatGeek Stadium is located. The agreement also includes higher annual lease payments to the village.
The Fire confirmed it will contribute $5m (£4m/€4.5m) to the village, with this money to be put towards refurbishment and expansion of the existing facilities around SeatGeek Stadium, the team’s home since 2006. Bridgeview will receive $60.5m over the remaining term of the lease, which runs until 2036, including a $10m upfront payment.
The Fire will continue to train at SeatGeek Stadium and operate youth development programmes there, but the team is set to explore alternative options for where it plays its home games.
Bridgeview Mayor Steven Landek said: “SeatGeek Stadium will now have year-round availability for consistent high-revenue generating entertainment events for years to come.
“The expanded recreation venue will create even more growth opportunities for the Village. I’m extremely excited about the benefits this agreement will bring to our community and for the future of a sports team that all of us in Bridgeview and the region have come to love.”
It remains unconfirmed where the team will play its home games next season but chairman Andrew Hauptman said the agreement will expose more fans to the Fire in a “more centrally-located Chicago stadium”.
Before moving to SeatGeek Stadium, the Fire played at Soldier Field, home of NFL American football team the Chicago Bears. Reports have suggested that Soldier Field will host the team again until a new soccer-specific stadium is built in downtown Chicago.