CHICAGO - The University of Massachusetts Amherst Sport Management program has announced that the Chicago Fire is one of four finalists for the 2005 PRISM AWARDS (Professionalism, Results and Innovation in Sport Management), presented annually to franchises at both the major and minor league levels that demonstrate excellence in five categories of sport franchise management: strategic mission, innovative marketing, community relations, customer service and employee relations.
"The Chicago Fire is proud to be named a finalist for this prestigious award," said Fire President/GM Peter Wilt. "The award recognizes excellence in strategic planning, innovative marketing, community relations, customer service and employee relations. These are hallmarks of our business efforts and it is gratifying to know that they are recognized by others."
The Fire is recognized as a finalist for the coveted award due to the organization's excellence, professionalism, and creativity in the categories mentioned above. Through the collective efforts of the Fire organization, the club has succeeded in fostering an emotional connection with the fans and with the community at large. The team supports a variety of educational programs, as well as youth development soccer programs such as the Chicago Fire Academy and Chicago Fire Juniors.
The three other finalists for the 2005 PRISM Award in the Major League category are fellow MLS club D.C. United, the Memphis Grizzlies (NBA) and the St. Louis Rams (NFL). In the Minor League category, the finalists are: Aberdeen IronBirds (New York-Penn League), Altoona Curve (Eastern League), Manchester Monarchs (AHL), Memphis Redbirds (Pacific Coast League), and Round Rock Express (Texas League).
"As in past years, we have noticed a continued improvement in the quality of the applications, which has made for a difficult process in identifying finalists," said PRISM program director Steve McKelvey. "We look forward to the further review process over the next few months to move toward selection of the winners."
The naming to the list of 2005 PRISM Award finalists is just the latest accolade the Fire organization has received in recent years. The Fire earned the Sports Fans of America Association's (SFAA) 2003 MLS Fan Friendliest Award in October of 2003 and was also accepted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in Boise, Idaho during a ceremony in October of last year for the relationship it built with the community of Naperville during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
The PRISM Award winner in both major and minor league categories will be announced in June. In addition to on-field presentations at the winners' venues, both winners will be honored and invited to make presentations at the 3rd Annual Sport Marketing Association Conference, which takes place in Phoenix in November of 2005.
Past PRISM Award winners in the major league category are: Minnesota Wild (2004); Houston Texans (2002-03), Washington Capitals (2001) and Orlando Magic (2000). Past winners in the minor league category are: Dayton Dragons (2002-2004), Sacramento RiverCats (2001) and Chicago Wolves (2000). For more information on the PRISM Awards, visit www.umass.edu/sptmgt.