In what is becoming an annual tradition, the NFL released its schedule for the upcoming season and Fire fans looked to compare the Bears and Fire’s home schedules. Because of the lease agreement between the Bears and Chicago Park District, the NFL team are the primary tenants at Soldier Field, giving their games precedence over other events at the venue, including Fire home matches.
Any Fire home up to five days before a Bears home game are subject to move, the longest buffer of the five MLS clubs that also share their venues with NFL teams (Soldier Field is the only of those venues with a natural grass field). The Fire can elect to play matches as soon as a day following a Bears event.
This season, the Fire and Major League Soccer proactively worked to reduce the number of games that were subject to moving: The Fire only host two home games in August, during the NFL preseason – the last of which is on a Wednesday, when the team might persuade the Bears to grant an exception or a Sunday pearson game at home. The team has just two home games after September 1 both of which are scheduled for the Wednesday and Saturday before the Chicago Marathon, when logistical constraints would render holding an NFL game at Soldier Field all but impossible.
As a result, no Fire home games are likely to move as a result of Bears regular season games; however, Fire games are still subject to move for events like preseason meet-and-greets held at Soldier Field.
The Bears will play their first and third preseason matches at home. Although dates have not yet been released, it is unlikely that any MLS matches will have to move as a result: the Bears play away in their second game, most likely on or around August 20 when Chicago hosts Orlando City.
However, the Fire will be participating in the Leagues Cup, a tournament between every MLS and Liga MX club with all matches hosted in the United States. Should the team make a run in the tournament, it is likely that the team would be unable to host quarterfinal (and possibly semifinal) matches at Soldier Field – unfortunate for the team, as the match could be against a Liga MX powerhouse that would be a huge draw for the team.
To date, all relocated matches have been held at the team’s former home of SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. Although the NFL released its schedule in May each of the past two seasons, the team has typically announced venue changes between late July or August, citing the need to confirm alternate venue arrangements.
In prior years, the team issued refunds for customers who had already purchased single-game tickets to moved matches, and season ticket holders were granted vouchers they could use for any remaining home games. That may be changing, however, as the team has since updated its ticketing terms and conditions to specify that the location of games are subject to change for both single-game and season tickets.