Professional men’s soccer is returning to Bridgeview’s SeatGeek Stadium, as Peter Wilt’s new Chicago NISA team will playing out of the former home of the Chicago Fire (MLS) and the current home of the Chicago Red Stars (NWSL).
The new Chicago NISA team will debut in the third-level National Independent Soccer Association’s 2021-22 season, which begins this fall. A name-the-team contest currently offers Point Chicago and Chicago House as the finalists.
Wilt, the Fire and Red Stars founder whose most recent pro soccer experience was with USL League One’s Forward Madison and USL Championship, and Village of Bridgeview Mayor Steven Landek announced they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a multi-year agreement.
SeatGeek Stadium opened in 2006 as the home of Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire and added the Chicago Red Stars (NWSL) in 2009. The Fire departed after the 2019 season and the Red Stars continue to play home games at SeatGeek Stadium.
“I’m excited to return to Bridgeview,” Wilt said via press statement. “SeatGeek Stadium has terrific fan amenities, sightlines built for soccer, and offers affordable parking conducive to tailgating for fans. We considered several venues, polled soccer fans online, and were convinced SeatGeek Stadium is the best venue for a pro soccer team in Chicagoland.”
As noted, NISA is a third division professional soccer league, though league officials say there are plans to add a second and perhaps a first division to its open system pyramid in the future.
“SeatGeek Stadium is a venue we can grow into,” Wilt said. “We don’t expect to fill the 20,000 seats every game initially, but we don’t expect to remain a third division club for long either. NISA offers us the hope, and indeed expectation, to climb the American professional soccer ladder via the meritocracy offered by promotion and relegation.”
Chicago NISA’s upcoming announcements include its head coach and its identity, both expected to be revealed next month.