The Chicago Fire are one step closer to leaving Bridgeview and moving back to downtown at Soldier Field.
On Wednesday, multiple outlets reported that the MLS team will buyout of their stadium lease with the city of Bridgeview, the first step in a return to Solider Field. Village spokesman Ray Hanania said the team will pay over $6M to break their lease with SeatGeek Stadium.
Per Chicago Business:
The Major League Soccer franchise will pay the village $60.5 million to get out of the lease, which the Fire signed in 2005 and had slated the team to play at the 20,000-seat venue through the 2036 season, the Desplaines Valley News reported.
Village board members yesterday unanimously approved a memo of understanding with the team that would let the Fire out of the lease and help Bridgeview pay off the substantial debt it has amassed from financing the stadium, the publication reported.
The plan is for the Fire to return to Solider Field as early as next season in 2020, a place they called home from 1998-2001 and 2003-2005 before moving to Bridgeview.
The Fire wouldn’t confirm the move, per the Chicago Tribune but now the proposal from the city goes to the team:
“We have been negotiating with Mayor (Steven) Landek and the Village of Bridgeview for some time on an amended stadium lease,” Fire President and general manager Nelson Rodriguez said in a statement, “but we have not reached a final agreement, and until we do, I’m not able to comment further.”
The village board on Tuesday unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding between the team and village. Under the proposed terms, the Fire would pay the village $10 million upfront and $5 million for a youth soccer facility. The remaining balance would be paid over the next 15 years.
Either way, this is certainly good news for a franchise hoping to rebuild a fan base. Playing at Soldier Field should allow more fans from the city to attend games.