When historians look back on the first 10 years of the Chicago Fire they will identify several landmark moments in time - dates and accomplishments that will forever be remembered as seminal points in the growth of the team and professional soccer in Chicago.
Amongst the dates remembered will be October 8, 1997 the day Chicago was awarded an MLS expansion franchise; March 21,1998, the date of the Fire's first game - a 2-0 victory over the Miami Fusion; and of course, October 25, 1998 will be recalled as the day the Fire lifted the MLS Cup in the first season of the franchise. Several other dates will be cited, including the day the Fire signed the great Peter Nowak, and when the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophy was captured for an historic third time.
In a relatively short period of time, much has been accomplished. Fire fans should be proud of their team. The naysayers have all been proved wrong, and after so many great games, championship victories, player signings, and off-field organizational developments, we are gathered here in Bridgeview for the Fire's first ever game in its new home, and to celebrate the Grand Opening of soccer's new home. June 11 and June 25, 2006 will be forever added to the historian's ledger.
These are truly special days for everyone associated with the Chicago Fire and the sport of soccer, days that would never have arrived had it not been for the passionate efforts and belief of so many people. While the list of contributors is long and worthy, I would like to pay special recognition to the Mayor of Bridgeview, Steven Landek; Chicago Fire owner, Mr. Philip Anschutz; and former Fire President/General Manager, Peter Wilt. Gentlemen, on behalf of the soccer community in Chicago, I would like to say thank you for having the vision, the belief, and the fortitude to turn special dreams into a quite breathtaking reality.
I would also like to say a special thank you to all the residents of Bridgeview. The Fire is thrilled to make our home in your backyard, and we look forward to being an active and responsive community partner.
Throughout the stadium development process the interest of the fan has always been kept at the forefront. With a world-class playing field, 20,000 seats each offering a unique and intimate vantage point, top quality concessions, and a commitment to provide the best in customer service, this stadium is designed to provide you - the fans - with the best possible live event experience. On the field, the Fire's passion for victory and desire to entertain has never been stronger. This is "our" home and with your support I believe we will create an intense home field advantage unmatched in Major League Soccer.
So now's the time to celebrate soccer! I hope your enjoy these special days, and look forward to providing you with many, many truly memorable experiences in the future.
Thank you for your support.
President & CEO, Chicago Fire