Toyota Park: First Impressions


This past weekend I was offered the unique change to attend the Chicago Fire “soft” opening in Bridgeview. My parents are lucky (unlucky?) enough to live in Bridgeview, the site of the new Chicago Fire stadium, now officially named Toyota Park. The Fire offered free tickets for their “soft” opening, including vouchers for a free hot dog, chips, and a drink, to many Bridgeview residents, and my mother, knowing what a soccer fan I am, managed to obtain two and gave them to me.

The match itself was exciting, with the Fire leading 3-1 against the New England Revolution until stoppage time. The Revolution spoiled what looked to be a sure-win by scoring two quick goals in under a minute during stoppage time, tieing the game.

Now for details about the stadium. On the outside, it still needs some polishing. On the south side of the stadium, there are some dirt and gravel roads that lead into the west entrance. I didn’t get a chance to see the east entrance, but it looked a lot better out there, paved parking lot and all.

The inside was much more polished. The stadium can hold about 20,000 people, although there were only about 13,000 at the game, but from the looks of it no one would get a bad seat. We were lucky enough to sit in the second row, literally about 10 yards away from the edge of the field. Even the last row of section 100 seats are fantastic, allowing an unobstructed view of all of the action. I didn’t get a chance to peruse around in the 200 level seats, but I’m willing to bet they were equally as good, just a bit further from the action.

The sound system was pretty nice, pumping out the requisite techno/house mix before game time. The announcers were heard loud and clear, and major game announcements were given in English, Spanish, and Polish.

There were a few bad things though. The concessions line was ridiculously slow. We left at around the 42 minute mark to get our free hot dog for (not) being Bridgeview residents, and it took about 40 minutes and a beer to actually get it. Levy restaurants was in charge of the food for the event, and in my mind, dropped the ball. We missed about half of the second half. It shouldn’t take that long to get some food. The only thing they did right was to have beer guys not more than an arm’s length from everyone.

Also, I’m not sure if this is standard operating procedure, but the staff took away a loose ball from a kid in the stands who claimed it. The kid was pretty adamant about not giving up the ball, but the staff eventually persuaded him to give it up; that was met with “boos” all around. What the hell? Let the kid keep the ball.

Other than these two events, and having to mingle with the citizens of Bridgeview in general, everything went pretty well. I hope that in the next few weeks they iron out all of the details.

For all the people who are dismayed that there is no easy way to get there by public transportation, the Fire has teamed up with Pace to provide a shuttle from the Midway Orange line stop to the stadium. Now there’s no excuse for you to not support the Chicago Fire.

Here are my other pictures of the fire stadium.

2 Comments so far

  1. Bill V (unregistered) on June 12th, 2006 @ 1:50 pm

    Sounds like a nice place. If I could get a free ticket along with the free dog, chips and drink for every game I might consider becoming a season ticket holder!

  2. Lee (unregistered) on June 25th, 2006 @ 10:17 pm

    I’m still dismayed about the lack of accessibility by public transit. Considering about a third of Chicagoans don’t have access to a car, and I’m guessing most soccer fans aren’t SUV-driving jocks like Cubs fans, I think it’s a major oversight to build in an inaccessible location. A Pace transfer from the end of the Orange line is not accessible — it’s just a pain in the ass.

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