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​Chicago Fire pay compensation to switch stadiums

Chicago Fire are set to pay the US$60.5 million release fee to play home fixtures away from the SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, reports, www.sportspromedia.com/.

An agreement regarding the Fire's departure from Bridgeview was reported by Desplaines Valley News earlier this week, with the Bridgeview Village board now having confirmed a memorandum of understanding with the franchise.

The US$60.5 million fee stipulated in escape clause will apparently be paid in instalments to Bridgeview village, with a US$10 million payment up front followed by smaller instalments over the next 15 years.

The Fire will continue to pay the village US$5 million for the next five years to continue to use Bridgeview's facilities for practice sessions.

The Fire are expected to remain at SeatGeek Stadium for the remainder of the 2019 season but from next season will play some, if not all, of their home fixtures in Soldier Field, home to National Football league (NFL) franchise the Chicago Bears.

SeatGeek Stadium is some 12 miles southwest of downtown Chicago and the Fire reportedly prefer the centrally located Soldier Field, which boasts more than double the capacity of Bridgeview as a stopgap with a view to building their own stadium in the city centre.

The Bridgeview Village board will use these payments to offset the debts driven by the original construction of the SeatGeek Stadium. The board also confirmed that there would be no need to bring in any property tax hikes to repay the debt.

Bridgeview mayor, Steve Landek, said: "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."

Dan Denys, financial advisor to the board, said that if a new soccer-specific stadium was built within 35 miles of Bridgeview "there would be additional compensation" from the Fire.

Chicago Red Stars, the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) outfit, will continue to play home fixtures at Bridgeview.

Ian Ferris
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Ian Ferris

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