Photo by Dan Pointer
Workers install new signage inside SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview last Thursday.
By Bob Bong
Lots of changes are in store for SeatGeek Stadium besides its new name, which was officially unveiled last week at the former Toyota Park in Bridgeview.
Dozens of officials, workers and residents braved the cold on March 7 to watch Bridgeview Mayor Steve Landek cut the ribbon officially inaugurating the stadium’s new name, which was announced early last year.
SeatGeek is the longtime home of the Chicago Fire men’s professional soccer club and the Chicago Red Stars women’s professional soccer club.
“This is not just a signing deal,” said Landek. “Our partnership will help bring a revitalized approach to booking and bringing music, sports and other entertainment events to SeatGeek Stadium.”
Landek praised SeatGeek founder Russ D’Souza “who was instrumental in bringing this deal to fruition.”
“In 2009, Mr. D’Souza took that idea and with his own hard work, persistence and tenacity, created a ticketing platform to break open the business of ticketing, as we have not seen before.
“This is not only a naming rights agreement, but also a true business partnership, thanks to SeatGeek’s leading technology and ticketing platform. Fans and business partners will both benefit.
“For our business partners, SeatGeek is helping make this an even greater place to promote events in a way like never before. SeatGeek is an official partner of Major League Soccer and were excited that they will be ticketing for the Chicago Fire like they already offer for other premier soccer clubs throughout the country.”
“I’m very excited to be in Bridgeview,” D’Souza said. “We are very committed to Major League Soccer and are excited about adding another partner.”
He said the naming opportunity presented itself and he jumped at the chance. It’s the company’s first and only naming deal.
“Chicago is one of our strongest cities,” he said. “We loved the opportunity to get into a big market like Chicago.”
Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez congratulated Landek for “thinking outside of the box.”
He said the Fire “will be a team that is representative of Chicago and Bridgeview.”
Red Star owner Arnim Whisler welcomed SeatGeek “to one of the best sports cities.”
He promised to bring a champion to Bridgeview.
“We intend to have a championship brought back to Chicago.”
He also said there will be world-class women’s soccer players at SeatGeek Stadium this year because it’s a World Cup year for the women’s teams.
Another big change at the stadium is its new management company, Spectra, which took over last summer.
This year, Spectra has already landed the two-day Chicago Open Air Festival on May 18-19, the Nitro Circus on June 8, and the traveling Premier Lacrosse League will play three matches there June 15-16.
“We are excited to host the PLL and the best lacrosse players from around the world at SeatGeek Stadium,” said Jack Ligon, new general manager of the stadium. “It will be a great weekend showcasing the best that lacrosse has to offer.”
Improvements at the stadium began last year when it was still called Toyota Park.
Spectra introduced new food and concession areas at the 20,000-seat open air stadium.
Also, the stadium site is home to a Shell gas station that opened a few years ago. A new 90,000-square-foot Bridgeview Sports Dome opened more than a year ago after the original dome was destroyed by a storm in January 2016.
Coming later this year is a new retail center fronting Harlem Avenue that is expected to be home to a couple of restaurants and stores.
The naming deal is for 10 years. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Landek said it was a better deal for the village than the previous deal with Toyota.
The stadium was built in 2006 as a soccer-specific stadium. In 2016, the Sports Turf Managers Association, a professional organization for the 2,600 men and women who manage sports fields worldwide, announced the stadium had the finest professional soccer field in the United States.
It cost an estimated $100 million to build.