The Political and Financial Rot Beneath Toyota Park

Something stinks...

Something stinks… (photo: filminglocations.com)

OTF unearthed some required reading for Fire fans…

Back in June 2012 — before this site existed and before the author of this post was a user of social media — Chicago Tribune investigative reporters Joseph Ryan and Joe Mahr published an account of extraordinary, yet all-too-typical fiduciary and fiscal irresponsibility by Chicago-area politicians.

The subject? Toyota Park.

If you haven’t yet, may I suggest you have a read? http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-09/news/ct-met-debt-bridgeview-main-20120609_1_bridgeview-soccer-stadium-chicago-fire

A few weeks later, a brief editorial came out in the Trib, asking “Who’s watching Bridgeview?”

You may want to have a gander at it as well: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-30/opinion/ct-edit-landek-20120630_1_bridgeview-village-trustee-steven-landek

Then, in December 2012, this report (which the author had previously read) about a “fiscal house of cards” was published a day before New Year’s Eve: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-12-30/news/ct-met-bridgeview-stadium-debt-20121230_1_bridgeview-officials-bridgeview-taxpayers-village-owned-stadium

Is there any hope that Chicago Fire Soccer Club can divorce itself from its current arrangement with the Village of Bridgeview? Well, a 30-year lease was signed in 2005, so you’ll have to wait until 2035 it seems. However, one wonders whether the Fire would have some options if the Village went insolvent due to the financial constraints put upon it and its taxpayers by Toyota Park.

Is there a release clause for the Fire in the Lease Agreement if the Village goes bankrupt? Would the Fire be able to sign a year-to-year deal if it did? Would it want to? Would Andell, Inc. gather a syndicate to buy Toyota Park at a discount if it thought it could develop its surrounding land? Or would the Fire get out of Bridgeview asap? If it’s the latter, I hope contingency plans are being drafted as I write this.

In the meantime though, maybe Chicago Fire Soccer Club’s head honcho in Bridgeview and Chief Operating Officer, Atul Khosla, should spend more time looking at financial data, counting beans, and negotiating with local politicians than pretending he knows anything about soccer and how to communicate with its supporters.

Scott Fenwick founded On The Fire in 2012. Along with Brian Smith, he co-hosts the On The Fire Soccer Radio Podcast. Scott also contributes to the Guardian’s (UK) MLS fan previewsThe Cup.usPickles Magazineand is America’s #1 Rapid supporter.

9 thoughts on “The Political and Financial Rot Beneath Toyota Park

  1. This did come out over a year ago. I think it’s disingenuous to present this as some new earth-shattering development.

    That said, of course, I’m all in favor of the Fire leaving Bridgeview for a better location. When they were debating the new DePaul stadium deal, the papers ran with an alternative that would site the stadium on (or near?) Goose Island. Don’t see why that location still can’t be redeveloped. That or develop an economically blighted part of the South or West side. Honestly, I’m up for anything that’s near an L line or reliable bus route.

    • Where is the implication that this is “earth-shattering”? The first time I read the first two pieces was today. I can guarantee you there are a lot of folks out there who didn’t know these Tribune pieces existed in the first place.

    • As I said, I hadn’t read the first two articles in the series until Monday, 8/26. A lot of folks who read this blog are from other places in North America and abroad. It’s likely they hadn’t read the articles. Also, I wanted to get this stuff up on the blog as a matter of record.

  2. I was curious to see what kind of reaction this piece would generate from readers before I chimed in. Sadly, like the original articles themselves, it appears that no one gives a crap. Sad.

    Months before I even entertained the idea of attending a Fire match I read the articles featured in this piece. At that time I could not have told you anything about the Fire – except that they could never have matched up with the Sting. I suspect there are thousands of households that do not know one thing about the Fire EXCEPT that they are somehow tied to a corrupt, politically connected crook.

    It is really a shameful position for the Fire to be in. And I see nothing wrong with Scott bringing this story up at this time. In fact it should never have been allowed to become “old” news. This story should have “legs” – but regrettably it doesn’t.

    Sadly the corruption and graft that is tolerated in Illinois is a symptom of a peculiarly immoral (and politically) sick culture. Ultimately the people of Bridgeview are the victims – but it is equally true that they have the power to boot this clown out of power and they have not (as far as I know) done so. So are they really the victims in this scenario?

    Realistically the best thing the Fire can do for the people of Bridgeview is to keep up their end of the agreement. They can best do this by putting together a high caliber, entertaining product on the pitch that will hopefully draw large, capacity crowds that will also spend money in the surrounding businesses.

    Still in all a very sad situation that unavoidably will taint the Fire to one degree or another. Hopefully the Fire will catch some lightning in a bottle and and quickly outgrow Toyota Park. They then can arrange for a 50,000 seat soccer specific stadium (with retractable roof) to be built in …. oh crap! That’s an argument for another day!

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