Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Chicago Fire

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?  

The Fire spends more than $1.25 million annually for a fully-funded academy.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team? 

Nine total. Six have played in MLS, with five of those currently on the roster.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?  

We have 6,500, which is the same as 2016 and three times the 2011 total.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost? 

The Fire first team trains at the stadium training grounds built and maintained by the Village of Bridgeview as a part of the $100 million project in 2006. The first team also makes use of the club’s $22 million facility, The PrivateBank Fire Pitch, for select training sessions.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium? 

Toyota Park was built and is maintained by the Village of Bridgeview as a part of the $100 million project in 2006.The Fire have funded several improvement projects, including a $3 million project to the Heineken Second Star club (a 154-seat directors box).

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team? 

We do not own/manage a USL team.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year? 

$11.6 million ($5.1 million in 2015, $1.5 million in 2016, $5 million in 2017).

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)? 

Not released for competitive reasons.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have? 

We manage internally.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season? 

Valspar Corporation. The Fire have more than 60 corporate partners.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?  

The Fire will air 29 matches on CSN Chicago this season in year three of a three-year deal valued more than $1.25 million annually. The schedule also includes a four-game schedule of Spanish-language simulcasts, 36 one-hour live weekly talk shows and four special edition All-Access shows.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

We have 90 (150 total, including part time). The number is up from 76 in 2016.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

Owner Andrew Hauptman has invested more than $100 million across the entire organization–from infrastructure and facilities, to talent acquisition and player development systems to enhanced community and charitable programs. These commitments will continue in 2017 and beyond.

Ownership believes in what we’re building, how we’re building it and the people who are running it. More than $10 million has been invested into the roster ahead of the 2017 campaign.

We have built a 365-day thriving soccer ecosystem that engages with the community everywhere soccer is played, coached, and watched in the city.

Another way to say it: When we think about building our brand, we don’t just focus on our 17 home games, we want to engage the community 365 days of the year.  In order to do that we have built a year-round soccer ecosystem that engages with the community everywhere soccer is played, coached, and watched in the city. We have programs for kids starting at 2 years, going all the way up to the pro level.  Every step of the way our objective is to build a life-long fire fan. We feel that we are unique in this regard.

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