The Chicago Fire and Section 8 Chicago, the club’s largest supporters’ group, on Wednesday announced joint plans for the 2019 MLS season, including a new, second supporters’ area in section 137 at SeatGeek Stadium, the Fire’s home ground.
The announcement ensures that Fire supporters’ groups will be present at Chicago’s home opener, against Orlando City SC on Saturday, March 9 (1 pm ET). It also marks a reconciliation in the wake of conflicts between the club and supporters’ groups last season, when the Sector Latino group’s privileges were revoked.
“Over the course of four productive and informative meetings during the offseason – where we saw a genuine spirit of cooperation – the club and supporters have agreed on a path forward,” said Fire president and GM Nelson Rodriguez in a club statement.
“The focus will be combining our efforts in support of each other and ultimately giving our team home field advantage. I’d personally like to thank Nicole Hack, Marty Tomszak, Joel Piktel and the entire leadership of Section 8 for their desire to find common ground. Our players are looking forward to having loud and colorful sections at both ends of the stadium throughout the season.”
The Fire and their supporters have also committed to continue their partnership on the Fire For Food initiative, raising funds and awareness for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Fire employees will join members of the supporters’ community in collaborative efforts at the Food Depository during the week of March 4, the week of the Fire’s home opener; additional details will be announced in the coming weeks.
“On behalf of Section 8 Chicago, I would like to acknowledge and thank the front-office staff that participated in this process and applaud their hard work in reaching this resolution,” said Hack, chair of Section 8.
The Fire will feature supporters’ sections behind both goals at SeatGeek Stadium in 2019, including the Harlem End (sections 117 and 118) in the venue’s north end and section 137 on the south side. These three sections (117, 118, 137) will be devoted only to supporters, with day-of-game tickets and individual tickets in these sections available for purchase only through Section 8 Chicago.
The Fire supporters’ tailgate area will remain on the north side of the stadium, while the visiting team’s traveling fans will sit in section 203.