Chicago Fire ‘chic’ training facility plans



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New training facility for Chicago Fire FC Image: Chicago Fire FC

The Mayor of Chicago (US), Lori E. Lightfoot, the Major League Soccer (MLS) team Chicago Fire Football Club, Alderman Jason Ervin (28th Ward), and the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) announced on March 13th the signing of a ground lease for a new training facility for Chicago’s MLS team in the Roosevelt Square neighborhood on the Near West Side.

‘Chicago Fire FC’ stated that as part of the long-term lease agreement, the Fire will finance the development of the multimillion-dollar facility and provide an $8 million community investment to be used for the rehabilitation and preservation of the nearby CHA housing and the creation of indoor and outdoor community spaces. Additionally, the Fire will provide long-term employment for community members, resources for minority and women-owned businesses, free sports programing for the local youth, community green spaces, and more.

The Chicago Fire Football Club is an American professional soccer club based in Chicago, US. The team competes in Major League Soccer (MLS) as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference, having moved to the Conference in 2002.

The Chicago Fire Football Club was founded on October 8th, 1997 on the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire. The Fire have won six major domestic championship titles, including the 1998 MLS Cup, the 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2006 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups, as well as the 2003 MLS Supporters’ Shield. The Fire plays their home matches at the historic Soldier Field.

The Soldier Field is a multipurpose stadium on the Near South Side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Opened in 1924 and reconstructed in 2003, the stadium has served as the home of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) since 1971, as well as the Chicago Fire FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) from 1998 to 2005 and since 2020. The stadium has a football capacity of 61,500, making it the smallest stadium in the National Football League (NFL). The Soldier Field is also the oldest stadium in both the NFL and MLS.

The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is the second-largest public housing authority in the nation and the largest owner of rental housing in Chicago. The CHA has a $1 billion operating budget and serves more than 63,000 low-income families across the City through the ownership of more than 21,000 public housing units and the management of 47,000 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) that are provided to renters living in all 77 community areas of the City.

‘Chicago Fire FC’ further stated that the lease is estimated to generate $40 million in revenue for the CHA over the next 40 years, and the CHA will use the proceeds to invest in its housing mission, including ABLA Brooks Homes, Loomis Courts and Williams Jones. Construction on the training facility is anticipated to begin later this Spring.

Maintained Mayor Lightfoot, “The Chicago Fire, one of our City’s greatest sports teams, deserves to have a high-quality training facility that not only meets their needs but fosters the growth of talented athletes. This potential new facility will both fulfill this need and provide the surrounding West Side community with job opportunities, recreational activities and community gathering spaces. Additionally, the millions of dollars in rental income generated by this project will support the CHA’s efforts to rehabilitate and build affordable housing in the surrounding areas.”

The new facility will feature a 53,000 square-foot, two-story performance center, two-and-a-half hybrid grass pitches and three synthetic turf pitches, providing a world-class training environment for the Fire’s professional and Academy players and staff. The hybrid grass pitches will feature a hydronic heating system, and the turf pitches will be protected by an insulated dome from November to March each year.

Exulted Alderman Jason Ervin, 28th Ward, “I am excited to move forward in this effort to utilize open space to support affordable housing, employment and recreation opportunities on the Near West Side, for the residents of the 28th Ward and the ABLA community. This economic investment in our community by the Chicago Fire Football Club will create substantial community benefits for generations to come, and I look forward to our ongoing collaboration with the Chicago Fire and Chicago Housing Authority to ensure these benefits are fully realized.”

ABLA Homes (Jane Addams Homes, Robert Brooks Homes, Loomis Courts, and Grace Abbott Homes) was a Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) public housing development that comprised four separate public housing projects on the Near-West Side of Chicago, Illinois, US. The name ‘ABLA’ was an acronym for the names of the four different housing developments that together constituted one large site: Addams, Brooks (including the Robert Brooks Extension), Loomis, and Abbott, totaling 3,596 units.

The 23.3-acre site is generally bounded by Roosevelt Road, Ashland Avenue, 14th Street, and Loomis Street. The site was previously occupied by portions of CHA’s former ABLA Homes, which is already in the process of being replaced by the mixed-income Roosevelt Square community as part of CHA’s ongoing commitment to develop mixed-income, mixed-use housing. In January, the CHA and its development partner, Related Midwest, broke ground on Roosevelt Square Phase 3B, a $172 million project that will include 222 new homes and 184 renovated apartments. The CHA will continue efforts to develop mixed-income housing in the area on nearby vacant CHA parcels, private land and City-owned land.

Shared Joe Mansueto, Chicago Fire FC Owner and Chairman, “Being a part of and giving back to Chicago is at the heart of the Chicago Fire Football Club ethos, and we are excited to put down roots on the Near West Side in the Roosevelt Square community. The development of our new facility will provide a state-of-the-art training environment for our players, coaches and our sporting staff. Our facility will also serve as a community programing home to the next generation of Chicagoans, bringing our City together through the sport of soccer. We look forward to getting underway and continuing our work with the local residents on this project.”

Added Tracey Scott, CHA head honcho, “At CHA, our goal is to help families unlock their economic power and seniors thrive. We know that all residents – including those who use housing subsidies – benefit from mixed-use, mixed-income communities with access to quality public schools, outdoor recreation, jobs and career opportunities, healthcare, and more. This new partnership with the Chicago Fire will secure substantial funds to improve aging public housing at ABLA Brooks and Loomis Courts and create long-term employment opportunities for the CHA residents. It will serve as a catalyst for future growth on the Near West Side for years to come.”

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