Help Us With Our Chicago Fire Research Project!

Schipper_RUG

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Hey Guys!

I'm a student at the University in the city of Groningen - which you might know because Johan Kappelhof played there for 5 years prior to coming to the Chicago Fire! If not for COVID-19, I would be doing a research project with my group in Chicago right now, but unfortunately, the trip has been cancelled. As this is part of my graduation, the research project is still on, however. For this project, we decided to look at the impact of the recent relocation of the Chicago Fire's stadium. If you have time, we would greatly appreciate it if you took 2 minutes to fill out our survey to help us do this project! There are no real requirements, only that you feel affiliated with the Chicago Fire in any way. The survey is also fully anonymous.


I have you are all safe in these times, and that you will soon be able to attend the Chicago Fire's matches once again!

Kind regards,
Daan Schipper
Student Human Geography at the University of Groningen
 

Crystallas

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You can google whatever, I'll try to sum it up from my memory (which might be way off and everyone can feel free to correct me), and that might help lead you to research more facts.

It started with the World Cup in 94. That's when all of the investors learned whether or not this city would show enough interest in soccer. I was alive when we had the Sting, and NOBODY cared, even though that team was good, that's why it took so long to get soccer going back in Chicago. No World Cup, no Fire.

AEG mocks up the idea to see if people are excited. This time it works, Soldier Field is slated for the US Open, etc. So naturally, they work out deals and investors at AEG are sold, the Chicago Fire is born.

Fast forward a few years, Soldier Field is old, and needed work. About 15 years of fighting on contracts, historical preservation, the Chicago Park District had this huge series of compromises to finally make the NFL happy along with the city (on paper at least). This led to raising maintenance costs for tenants to cover part of the renovations, a lot of headaches with other ongoing renovation projects in the city. The Wacker Drive project is something you may want to look into, because traffic to Soldier Field during the MLS season was awful. These two projects became a bundle of sorts.

The Fire then temporarily went to North Central College's stadium while Soldier Field was renovated. AEG then had a better idea on what to expect for revenue, making it easy to try and seek out a better upgrade. Also in the Chicago area, soccer dropped in popularity, it's nearly 10 years from the World Cup, the average fans were poorer immigrants. So it's getting pretty clear that Soldier Field was missing the mark in many ways. Plus rents increased for tenants due to the renovations. Math doesn't lie.

While all of that is going on, Chicago was a near finalist for about a decade in contention for hosting an Olympic Games. This led a charge to get an Olympic venue or two built. Eventually everyone settled on Bridgeview, which is a mix of industrial historic and outskirt urban. Toyota Park was born with the Fire being the main draw to cover the building, and the Olympics becoming secondary.

The city went through a period of wanting to bring the Olympics to Chicago, then dealing with a shrinking economy, seeing the lingering debt from past host cities, the citizens of the state of Illinois and city of Chicago changed their mind pretty much pressuring the Fire to stick to Toyota Park. AEG sold a large stake to another investor and he wasn't ready to alienate the locals or make any major moves.

Chicago has a lot of similar attendance-wise sporting leagues in the area, and in the same time period, we saw a lot of shuffling and avoiding bankruptcy from those franchises. So you gotta understand, while Fire fans would debate wanting the larger venue around 10 years ago, we had solid information that supported the cautious approach.

Over the same time frame, other small professional sports started to develop. Now that the Fire started to improve financially, they can afford something nicer and grow, while new starting outdoor sports were very limited in where and what they could do in the area. Toyota Park gained new tenants. So fans and locals lose and gain at the same time, not an issue. New sponsor, etc.

Mansueto bought out the majority of the club, started planning a move back into the city. And that is where we are now.
 

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