New Fire stadium named Toyota Park
and 28,000 for concerts -- and will operate at significantly lower than full capacity for Sunday's match, as tickets have only been made available to Fire season ticket holders and Bridgeview residents.
The official Toyota Park Grand Opening comes in a fortnight. The stadium's "Inaugural Event" will be the Pepsi B96 SummerBash concert festival, a mix of Top 40 acts, on Saturday, June 24. The next day, the Fire host the New York Red Bulls in front of what is anticipated to be a standing-room only crowd in excess of 20,000.
"The Chicagoland area is one of Toyota's largest and most important markets, and our partnership with AEG presents a great opportunity to increase our ties with the community through the concerts, events and promotions taking place at Toyota Park," said Paul Holdridge, Toyota Motor Sales USA General Manager of the Chicago Region. "The sport of soccer has an enormous fan base here in Chicago, and we're very pleased Toyota Park will be the Fire's new home."
As part of the agreement, Toyota's logo will appear throughout the stadium, and special display platforms have been added to the facility's roof so that Toyota can show specific models of their cars and trucks. Local Chicago Toyota dealers will benefit through brand integration, signage, promotions and hospitality.
Toyota Park will host one of the biggest events on the MLS calendar this year: the 2006 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game, in which the MLS All-Stars will take on two-time defending English Premier League champions Chelsea FC. Also, on July 12, the Fire will face elite Mexican side Club America.
In addition to its soccer events, Toyota Park, which houses AEG and Fire offices, retail spaces and the Illinois Soccer Hall of Fame, will host a regular string of sporting, entertainment, community and special events.
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.