A new Chicago Fire stadium could be part of the long-term plans for the Michael Reese Hospital site in Chicago, potentially giving the club a facility solution.
The Fire currently play at SeatGeek Stadium in suburban Bridgeview, but recent reports have indicated that the club is looking to exit its lease and move back into Chicago’s limits. Soldier Field would serve as the club’s home as early as the 2020 MLS season if that shift takes place, but the former Michael Reese Hospital site could factor into a long-term facility plan.
Located south of McCormick Place, the Michael Reese site has been under city ownership since it was purchased as part of a failed bid for the 2016 Olympics. It has not been redeveloped thus far, but a new Fire stadium could be part of the solution. Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman, who is resigning from his post, mentioned a potential Fire stadium during an interview on Monday. However, he labeled it a “long-term idea” and cautioned that any future redevelopment of the site will be complex, likely requiring multiple uses. More from the Chicago Sun-Times:
On Monday, Reifman disclosed there is a “long-term idea” to build a soccer stadium on the site that could be the future home of the Fire, if the professional soccer team that currently plays at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview returns to Chicago.
“It could be a location for the stadium. … It could be a piece of the puzzle for Michael Reese. But, there are a lot of pieces of the puzzle for Michael Reese. Michael Reese is a large site, multi-phased development. It will need multiple uses to be successful,” Reifman said.
The Fire has played at SeatGeek Stadium (previously known as Toyota Park until a recent name change) since its 2006 opening. It has been a struggle for the club from an attendance perspective, however, while development surrounding the stadium has not materialized on the scale that was initially hoped by local officials.
A lease agreement for SeatGeek Stadium runs through 2036, but the Fire could find an immediate solution in Chicago if plans to land at Soldier Field materialize. The Michael Reese site is in, theory, an intriguing long-term option in that offers enough space for a new stadium to anchor surrounding development, but it seems that any plans will take time to materialize.
Image courtesy Chicago Fire.