Soccer Team Eyes Arlington Park for Stadium

by Marcy Kreiter

It's all very preliminary, but there are indications the Chicago Fire soccer team is considering Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Ill., as a possible site for permanent soccer-only stadium.

The Fire has said it's looking for large, empty plots of land near major highways and public transportation for a 15,000- to 20,000-seat stadium to be occupied beginning with the 2002 season. Arlington occupies 325 acres just off Illinois Route 53 and U.S. 14. It also has its own Metra commuter rail station.

For their part, Arlington officials remain mum on the matter. Village officials said no one has contacted them, but such a project would be feasible.

Sportsman's Park chief operating officer Ed Duffy said the Fire looked at the Cicero, Ill., racetrack but decided the seating was too far from the action.

One possible glitch is the timing of the horseracing and soccer seasons. This year, Arlington is running from June 13 to Oct. 28, while the Fire's eason began April 7 and runs through Sept. 15, followed by the Major League Soccer playoffs. Over the last three years, the Fire has averaged 25 home games.

The Fire reportedly is considering four sites -- two in the suburbs and two in Chicago. The team currently plays at Soldier Field, which is scheduled to undergo renovations.