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Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire announce sale, relocation

5:02 am AEST 14/9/19
Bastian Schweinsteiger Chicago Fire
The MLS team is set to return to the Windy City under new ownership, after spending 13 years in nearby Bridgeview

The Chicago Fire have announced the sale of the franchise, as well as a relocation back to the Windy City after spending 13 years in nearby Bridgeview, Illinois.

Fire Chairman and owner Andrew Hauptman, who had held a controlling stake in the team for 12 years, has sold Joe Mansueto, who is the executive chairman of Chicago-based investment research firm Morningstar.

In addition, Hauptman announced he sealed an agreement which continues a process to allow the Fire to return to Chicago, having moved to nearby Bridgeview in 2006.

The Fire continue toward an agreement which will permit them to play their 2020 season at Soldier Field, which is also home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

Chicago had played at Soldier Field from its inception in 1997 through their move to Bridgeview.

The stadium has played host to big matches since the Fire’s departure, including the 2017 MLS All-Star game against Real Madrid and 2019 Gold Cup final, which saw Mexico defeat the United States 1-0 to claim the Concacaf crown.

Mansueto will be looking to help guide the Fire forward as the organization have struggled to achieve results in recent years.

While the Fire were very successful for the first 12 years of their existence, winning the MLS Cup in their debut season and making two other MLS Cup finals while missing the playoffs just once and capturing the U.S. Open Cup four times, they have rarely been seen in the post-season since.

Chicago has made the playoffs just twice in the last nine seasons – in 2012 and 2017.

They made waves on the transfer market bringing in World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger in 2017, leading to their best finish in a half-decade, but were unable to follow up on that success last season, missing the playoffs once more.

This year has been another struggle for the Fire, general manager Nelson Rodriguez and head coach Veljko Paunovic, as they sit 10th in the Eastern Conference on 34 points, leaving them five back of the final playoff spot in the East with only four games remaining in the MLS regular season.