MLS- Chicago Fire

Report: At least three groups interested in purchase of Fire

Photo by Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports

Photo by Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 season has been yet another disappointing one for the Chicago Fire, but some groups remain interested should the Fire opt for major shake-ups this offseason.

Chicago Now reported on Wednesday that there are three groups interested in acquiring the Fire should the current ownership group opt to sell over the offseason. According to the report, no timelines have been set on a potential sale, but discussions have been held and are in “very early stages”.

Among the potential buyers are two local investors, Richard Levy and Majeed Ekbal. Levy is currently listed as a board member of Chicago Fire Juniors City youth club and has been active in the Chicago area for years. Ekbal, meanwhile,  is a real estate developer currently based in Chicago that started working in the city in the 1990’s.

The third potential party is the Bridgeview Group representing the city that houses Toyota Stadium. Over the past several years, relations between the Fire and the local Village of Bridgeview have been tumultuous as both parties have become unhappy with the Toyota Stadium arrangement. When the Fire signed on to get the stadium built over a decade ago, the club made several concessions and deals that are uncommon in most markets. Now, a decade later, those concessions have reportedly harmed the club financially, preventing them from spending big like the team’s MLS counterparts.

One issue that any new owner would face would be that stadium situation. In recent years, the club has pointed to the field’s deteriorating condition as a potential out of the contract, as field maintenance is supposed to be handled the Village of Bridgeview. The Fire have complained several times publicly, while also reportedly encouraging visiting teams to lobby complaints of the facilities.

For the past year, the club has reportedly searched for potential alternative stadium sites should the club find a way to break out of the Toyota Park contract.

Should a new owner come in, one of the first orders of business would be to remedy the stadium situation, one way or another. Should the club need to move out, a multi-million dollar buy out fee may be necessary for whoever owns the club.

On the field, the team has disappointed yet again in 2016 and currently sits dead last in the Eastern Conference. The team’s U.S. Open Cup run, a bright spot of the year, ended on Tuesday with a loss to the New England Revolution. However, under the leadership of general manager Nelson Rodriguez, the Fire have accrued several MLS-based assets ahead of what looks like it will be a busy winter.

What do you think of the latest Fire news? What do you expect from the club in the coming years?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Steve

    Mls needs to make sure ownership does not buy a franchise and let it rot only to cash in I was afire fan but will not support them at the gate. The stadium deal is a farce the location is terrible. Chicago deserves so much better than tam and gam and no effort by ownership to improve


  • aaronsinger

    Toyota Stadium is where FC Dallas plays in Frisco, TX. The Fire play in Toyota Park. And I think Guillermo Rivera should be credited by name, he’s one of just a few reporters who consistently work hard to report on the Fire; ChicagoNow is just a blog portal for any number of topics (sports or not).


  • CP

    Any ideas where in Chicago a stadium could be built? That would be the sweetest of outcomes.


      • wychijeff

        I don’t think either location has the space. They are never going to build it near the waterfront in the actual Lincoln Park. That is one of the areas major draws and there are enough really wealthy people who live around there that I don’t see how it ever gets approved. I don’t know Evanston as well, but the areas that I know near the trains are fairly densely populated, so again I’m not sure there is room there. Every day I ride the Brown Line to work and there is a huge open park near North and Clybourn. It is near public transportation and downtown, but as I commented below, it is owned by the city and would probably be hard to get a deal done without it functioning similar to the deal the Bears have at Soldier Field which is not ideal.


  • Ivan

    Anything to save that joke of a ‘franchise’…something gotta change or they may as well fold…Won’t be missed by many…


    • MidWest Ref

      It is sad how far the Fire has fallen. The owners made a terrible mistake in terminating Peter Wilt after the move to the suburbs, Without his enthusiasm, the team lost a lot of momentum and moving to the suburbs the team lost the young adult crowd (a big part of Seattle’s success) and the immigrant market who both live in the City. I have family who live int eh city. They will take the train to see minor league A-baseball in Kane County, but they can’t grab a train (and wont) to see a fire game in Bridgeport.


      • Old School

        Bridgeport. Bridgeview.

        Not sure if your family knows, but as a friendly reminder they can grab a beer at The Globe off Irving Park Rd (or the Brown Line) and take a shuttle directly to the stadium. The drive absolutely sucks, but that can make it more of a fun event for a family outing. (Of course, if they have kids – I don’t know then)

        With that said, I still refuse to give any of my money to the Fire.


      • wychijeff

        I agree, tickets cost next to nothing and I still can’t be bothered to attend. Terrible organization, terrible location, and no exciting talent. I love when their season ticket sales people call me and try to convince me to buy and their main selling point is Matt Polster got a USMNT call up. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


  • wychijeff

    1. Don’t let it be the Bridgeview Group. The stadium is in a horrible location and is pretty far from public transportation. Driving there is also a pain and requires a DD. I don’t know how much money this group has, but this club needs owners with deep pockets to start bringing in some talent that people actually want to go see.

    2. A stadium needs to be built in the city and near public transportation. Old School suggested Lincoln Park. I don’t think it has the space and they definitely are not going to build over the actual park. I don’t know Evanston as well, but train access is limited there and all the areas I know of near the trains are densely populated.

    3. There is a huge wide open park near North and Halsted that has practically been deserted for years. It is close to downtown and the Brown line. I think it is ideal but it would probably require a deal with the city similar to what the Bears have at Soldier Field because it is a public park. The deal the Bears have at Soldier field has been a point of debate for years as the city is in charge of managing the stadium and people complain that it isn’t up to NFL standards.

    4. I don’t know the other two owners, but will most certainly need a Billionaire owner or group to buy the club because it will be VERY expensive to build a stadium in the city.


  • THomas

    In a market like Chicago, with the wealth and disposable income available to spend on entertainment, there is no reason this team shouldn’t be successful.

    With the proper owner, stadium situation, and front office staff they could draw huge numbers and be a model franchise. As it stands, they’re equivalent to what the Blackhawks were before their resurgence.

    A stadium in two locations will be successful:
    1. In the city, near public transit and in a safe, accessible neighborhood.
    2. A suburban location could work, but it would have to be a near suburb like Rosemont, Evanston, Schaumburg, etc.

    It can be done, but whether it will be done is a different matter. Whoever buys this franchise could double it’s value just by moving them. It’s a sleeping giant. Wish I was rich!


  • Martha c

    I doubt they are selling anytime soon. They made a terrible deal with the stadium. They can’t get out of it and are trying to play the “field sucks” excuse to terminate the contract even if Fire fold and MLS brings a new team then they still have to abide by the contract. Maybe if they bring a second team into the city in a differnt location (the Sting?) and after three years THEN implode the Fire…? But yes Fire suck and most fans have lost interest there’s usually like the same 3 or fans on the blog sites. Sad stuff MLS screwed the Pooch on stadium deal and selling to Haiptman ..and unless I’m wrong didn’t Peter Wilt have a hand in the stadium deal?


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