Supporters’ Group of the Month: Black Fires

Many of those involved with Section 8 Chicago and in the broader Chicago soccer community choose to express their support for the Chicago Fire by forming supporters’ clubs. These clubs are as diverse as Chicago Fire fans themselves. For many, the appeal of forming a supporters’ club is being able to gather with like-minded friends and fans as well as attracting new ones based on shared interests. We’ll be featuring a new club every month and are thrilled to kick this off with one of the newest clubs on the scene, Black FiresFounder of Black Fires, Jake

We spoke with Jake Payne, founder of Black Fires about the group, their focus, and their upcoming watch party at Reggie’s (2105 S. State Street) on February 23 for the final match of the Carolina Cup which sees the Chicago Fire take on the Charleston Battery. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. but festivities start at 6 p.m. on the Reggie’s Rooftop Deck (fear not, it’s heated!), featuring drink specials and of course, the match streamed live. There will be a raffle to benefit My Block, My Hood, My City featuring game-worn player gear and more. Black Fires will also be debuting new merch soon, including their Black Heritage Scarf shown below. 

What is your club’s name? Black Fires

What is the story behind your SG’s name? We’re celebrating black culture and we like the Fire.

When was your SG founded? We really got together around September 11, 2018. That’s at least when we made our purpose statement.

What upcoming projects is your SG working on? Right now we’re focused on our Black History Month event at Reggie’s. After that, we want to have buses that go to the pitch from Southside buses.

Why did you choose to found this SG? We saw how other supporters groups celebrated their heritage, like Polish and Latinx/Hispanic [focused groups], and brought those elements into supporters’ culture. Black culture hasn’t had that same opportunity to do that so we got together to start that in Chicago. We also want other black fans to have a place to go and avoid the “only black person in the room” syndrome that we’ve felt and to give black fans the same voice that other groups have in the Fire community.

What are the specific interests or focus of the SG? We want to open things up for black fans all over Chicago, do initiatives on the South and West side, give back to black charities, and celebrate Black culture. The dream is to have our own Black Fires chant and two poles. We really want us to have the same prominence as Sector Latino and Red Line.

What are you / your SG most excited about in the upcoming season? We just want to get started growing and getting new fans into the stadium and growing the connection with existing fans.

 

Big thanks to Jake for taking the time to speak with us. We’re excited to see what the future holds. Stayed tuned next month for a new featured supporters’ club.

 

MATCH PREVIEW: Chicago Fire vs FC Cincinnati Fussball/Futbol/Football Club of Ohio

To experience the joys of supporter culture, former S8C Director of Events Jacob Peters provides some background on Fire history, rivalries, and some footnotes on how to effectively criticize, troll, and generally enjoy Fire games.

Next up, Spring Training warm-up matches in Charleston, SC. As always…

Sing in full voice. Hate with reason.

 

6:30pm CT Wednesday Feb. 20th vs. FC Cincinnati

We’ve played this team once before, it was a heartbreaking loss in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16. My biggest memory of the game was having to explain to a Cincinnati soccer tourist that the reason they were surrounded by 100 people in Red and White giving him the stink eye is that his drunk ass had stumbled into the visiting supporters’ section. He cried “at Reds games the Cubs fans don’t have to sit in a separate area”, which perfectly encapsulated the learning curve that many Cincy fans are struggling up. As the Carolinians would say…”bless their hearts”.

I personally am more fond of Cincinnati than most after going to college there and honestly falling in love with the awesome weird people that I met there while fighting against the entrenched and thoroughly dull status quo of the city. However, I have to keep my partisan cap on and draw attention to the truly idiotic things that their try-hard front office have done.

Ouch!

I’m not just talking about their logo redesign that is problematic for many reasons but maybe I’m just a sucker for that old lion and all that negative space magic they had going. (that “C” in the tail is a tad bit “cavalier” don’t you think?) Or the fact that their first team is going to be wearing replica jerseys…during league games. 

For example, the FC originally stood for “Futbol Club”…why? No clue. They “rebranded” to Fussball Club Cincinnati because they wanted to embrace “the area’s high population of residents with German heritage”. Which is just absolutely hilarious since the Germans don’t spell it that way, instead they utilize the eszett as in “Fußball”. Which means that FC Cincy just rebranded themselves to pay homage to how they can’t do basic research into the translation of the sport known as soccer to most of their suburban fans. Just be glad it’s not as bad as their “Zinzinnati” shtick.

What is it with Ohio teams and embracing all the wrong things about German culture? Anyway, Cincinnati does have the largest Oktoberfest in North America, and it happens to be the same weekend that the Fire play there this year. So…you should probably make a weekend of it, and bring down a bunch of Chicago beers to show them one of the many ways that we do Germany better than they do.

This is how you embrace German heritage ya posers:

…AND A GOOD DAY TO YOU TOO, SIR!

Sound of Sirens — Fire chants to Shout at Cincy:

This really is only our second game ever against them, so we don’t have that deep of a stable of chants against Cincy yet. Share your best ideas in the lead up to the game on Wednesday with the hashtag #cf97. Here’s my contribution:

  • “Nothing Rhymes with Orange” to the tune of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”
    • “Nothing Rhymes with Orange, Nothing Rhymes with Orange, Nothing Rhymes with Orange, aren’t you Blue?”

 

 

Members of the Section 8 Chicago ISA 2019 will be at Cleo’s for this match (1935 W. Chicago Ave) enjoying half off burgers, $4 Revolution beers, and $3 Malort – yikes!

Return of Organized Support to Chicago Fire Home Matches

021319 PR S8C

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                

Front Office staff and Chicago Fire Supporters have reached an agreement to return to home matches at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois.

At the conclusion of a series of meetings between Chicago Fire front office staff, representatives from Section 8 Chicago, the Independent Supporters’ Association (ISA), as well as a number of other Chicago Fire supporters have reached an amicable consensus and the ISA is excited to announce a return to in-stadium organized support.

“After several months of boycott against the Chicago Fire front office’s suspension policy, we look forward to returning to in-stadium support for the 2019 season. We encourage supporters to embody the values instilled in us as supporters of our club – Tradition, Honor, Passion,” said Nicole Hack, Chairperson Section 8 Chicago.

“I’d personally like to thank Nicole Hack, Marty Tomszak, Joel Piktel and the entire leadership of Section 8 for their desire to find common ground,” said Chicago Fire Soccer Club President and General Manager Nelson Rodríguez. “Our players are looking forward to having loud and colorful sections at both ends of the stadium throughout the season.”

Section 137 has been designated as an additional Supporters’ Section in SeatGeek Stadium. This decision was reached as a collaborative initiative between Chicago Fire supporters after a choice was given by the Chicago Fire Front Office between sections 137, 134, and 101.

Season tickets will be available in the Supporters’ Sections (section 137 and the Harlem End-sections 117 and 118) at the previously-offered renewal pricing. People purchasing season tickets in the Supporters’ sections will be required to adhere to the MLS Fan Code of Conduct as well as the Supporters’ Charter and the Rights and Responsibilities of a Supporter document. Fans interested in purchasing season tickets will need to contact ticket reps directly. Day-of-game tickets and individual tickets in these sections will only be available for purchase through Section 8 Chicago. For additional information on supporters’ season tickets visit www.chicago-fire.com/supporters or call a member of the Season Ticket Services team at (708) 496-6800.

We are also proud to expand our partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD), the Fire For Food Drive, by including the Chicago Fire Soccer Club (CFSC) in several of our upcoming fundraising events. Additionally, Fire players, staff, and supporters will jointly volunteer at the GCFD throughout the season.

The ISA is hopeful that this is the beginning of a renewed positive relationship with the stewards of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club as the entire community looks to attain success on and off the field. Updates will be provided as the two sides continue dialogue throughout the season.

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ISA Annual Report

2018 will be a year not easily forgotten for Fire supporters. Another year of failure on the pitch was compounded by one of the worst years in supporters’ relations this community has ever seen. It has been a turbulent year to say the least, and there is much work still to be done by the 2019 ISA before these problems are behind us.

This year was demanding on many levels for the community. Difficult decisions needed to be made on both the community and individual level, whether it was the stance on active support or a personal decision about what your relation with the team will be next season. No matter how you feel about these questions, I would like to acknowledge the difficulties that many members of our community faced this year, especially my fellow board members. We are all people with jobs, families, some of us even have hobbies and passions outside of soccer. Balancing our real lives and the demands of serving this community has never been easy, but 2018 asked many people on the board, and in the community at large, to go above and beyond. Next year will almost certainly ask the 2019 ISA to rise above also. First and foremost I would like to thank all of those people who gave, and will continue to give, so much of your time volunteering for this community.

Despite the challenges faced this year, and maybe even in defiance of these challenges, we also saw some of the best aspects and the true camaraderie of this community. At times when we were faced with some of our hardest decisions in the stadium, the community reached new heights outside of the stadium. The ISA continued the work started by former chair Scott Greene over the previous two years to shore up the ISA’s legal and financial standing. While our coffers, and patience, have been seriously drained at times by this endeavor, I can say Section 8 Chicago, as a legal entity, is now ready to move forward in good standing.

The 2018 board also elected and helped empower a whole new subcommittee for the Fire community, the October 8th Committee. This three person group was elected to a five year term with the goal of preparing the next anniversary party and having a general mandate to preserve an independent history of the team and it’s supporters. This group has already overseen another successful Malort 5k and you will be hearing more from them over the next four years as we gear up for the 25th anniversary of the team. I would like to thank Betsy, Scott and Tweed for serving on this group.

The ISA also started and executed several new projects this year that will hopefully continue through next year and the future. One of my goals as chair was the protection of our various intellectual properties. I am happy to say, with the help of Fire supporter Heidi Thole, we have filed six marks that can be found on page four. We tried new approaches to away games and watch parties, giving us unique new experiences like our early season train journey to Minnesota or the watch party at the Davis theater in Lincoln Square, special thanks to Nikita for organizing this watch party to benefit immunotherapy research at Northwestern Medicine. We had some great times with our sisters and brothers from both Local 134 and Portland’s 107ists for an amazing doubleheader early in the year. The list goes on, but overall this year was not all doom and gloom.

This is especially apparent when I look at the accomplishments our Fire family made in the larger community this year. With the help of Oliver Kolb we continued our work with Buckledown Brewing on creating Lager 97, an S8C beer available in cans this season, and with the help of Marty Tomszak we started growing a new partnership with Goose Island to create the Keller 31 beer and get it on tap most of the places you could actually watch a Fire game this season. We renewed and furthered our work with many community partners and kept our tradition of donating tickets to several CPS schools in order to get kids out to games who may not normally have that opportunity. Last but not least, we raised and gave back a lot of money this year. Our community gave back over $20,000 to charitable causes across this season, including our crown jewel of charity projects, the Fire for Food Drive. Piloted by Marty, the Fire for Food Drive raised a total of $10,000 which was donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, allowing those without access to stable food resources to live with greater dignity and security. While the team may not have finished top of the table, Fire supporters are still one of the league leaders in charitable activities and we have every right to be proud of that.

All of these accomplishments leave me feeling no despair when I look at the future of this community, but a strong belief that no matter what the circumstances of the team or league, this group of people, our identity, and our values will remain strong. You don’t need to agree with the stances of everyone on the board next year or all of your fellow supporters to remember that this is still a rare group of like minded people that are capable of accomplishing great things. I have full confidence that the 2019 board will only build upon the successes of 2018 and keep this momentum going with our projects outside of the stadium. While the team and management may not always reflect the passion and expectations of our community, always remember this is OUR community and we can make of it what we will. Despite any set backs, we can, and will, still deliver amazing results in our own efforts and can remind people of the greatness Chicago and what it’s supporters are capable of.

It has been a pleasure serving this community,

Dan Giroux, ISA Board Member 2015-2018

ISA Annual Report

2019 AGM

It’s time once more for the ISA’s Annual General Meeting. Join us on January 19th as we catch up on the year that was and elect a new Section 8 board of directors.

The AGM will be held at Schubas Tavern, with doors opening at noon and the meeting starting at 1pm. We will hear from outgoing chair Dan Giroux on the state of the ISA and then have a Q&A with 2019 board candidates. Following the Q&A members in attendance will vote on the 2019 board.

If you are interested in running for a position on the 2019 ISA, inform vice-chair Nicole Hack of your candidacy, in writing or by email, no later than December 19th.

If you cannot make the AGM but still wish to vote, you can request an absentee ballot, starting on December 19th. For an absentee ballot, request one from Nicole Hack, who will email you the ballot and instructions for mailing it back.

Nicole Hack : Nicole@s8c.org 

Schubas Tavern : 3159 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

An update on ongoing talks with the front office, 11/15

We would like to update the community on the ongoing discussions with the Front Office about the situation with section 101.

Last night 11/15 #cf97 supporters continued talk with the front office. Participants included people from Section 101, The Harlem End and elsewhere throughout Toyota Park. No agreements were reached and talks are ongoing. We will continue to represent the interests of all supporters of the Chicago Fire and keep the community updated as the situation develops.

En las buenas y las malas

Lindsay Una #cf97 Fire Supporters

via Lindsay Eanet of Second City Social Club

In most years, supporting the Chicago Fire is an escape for my wife and our friends and I, where we can channel whatever’s bothering us into singing until our throats go raw, planning elaborate tailgates for our friends & even traveling across oceans to cheer on the Men in Red. It was something to look forward to.

Lindsay Una #cf97 Fire Supporters

But this season, like everything else, the ugliness of the greater world is reflected in the sports team we love—racial profiling, leadership that shirks accountability, transparency & good-faith negotiation & a failure to address real problems in any meaningful or sustainable way. As a result, we haven’t set foot inside Toyota Park since June, and are not renewing our season tickets (petition here). What was once silly fun is now frustrating & infuriating &, yes, inevitably politicized. (Nothing is ever just about sports.)

But what’s remarkable to me is that the good & redemptive in the world right now is also reflected in the Fire supporter community’s response to various administrative failings.

Groups with different support praxes & opinions have come together to show up for each other & unite behind their fellow supporters affected by the vague, discriminatory ban of Section 101. La Banda de Sector Latino is still making music & generating electric energy wherever they watch their club.

People are still building community & doing good—Marty’s #FireForFood fundraiser crushed its goal and raised thousands for hungry Chicagoans in need. Our (Second City Social Club’s) own partnership with Logan’s Squares through #SupportYourLocal & #GivingForGoals supported all kinds of great local causes. Jake & Phil launched Black Fires, a new group to build community, visibility & culture among Black soccer supporters in our city. And there are people like Nicole who still tirelessly show up & try to make shit happen en las buenas y las malas. Mad Javier is still in the North Lot ready with enough carnitas to feed a small army & a cooler of piña coladas to wash it down.

There is so much love & support in this small but mad community, even in the worst of it, & I’m proud to see what the people in it have accomplished this year, & will continue to do. It’s a reminder that there are reasons not to give up on whatever this is, even when the future feels uncertain.

I joke a lot about how the world is a trashfire & how the Fire are dead to us, but that’s only somewhat true. Even in the worst of times, there are still people organizing & building & bringing coolers full of piña coladas. There are still good things worth saving & reasons to act, whether it’s for your silly sports team or something much nobler, or much more urgent. Keep going. En las buenas y las malas.

I most likely won’t be at Toyota Park for the season closer this Sunday, but big love to everyone demanding better of this club in the manner they see fit. Vámos Chicago.

All Supporters Privileges Suspended by The Fire for 8/11 Match Against RBNY

Today the ISA board was sent the above notice to indicate that all flags, banners, instruments and other supporter activities will not be permitted for the match against the New York Red Bulls on August 11th. While the ISA has suspended the organized support that our volunteers provide to the team, this revocation will affect all supporters and the above items will not be permitted into the game.

This notice was also accompanied by a wave of individual bans to supporters who allegedly entered Section 101 during the match on July 21st. The ISA rejects the premise of these bans as there was never official communication or notice that entry to 101 was prohibited. These most recent actions show the level of distrust and apathy that current Fire management have for their most loyal customers. We are disappointed, though hardly surprised, with this continued breakdown of supporter relations, and will continue to ask for a public meeting to address the current state of the club. We would like answers to why video and photographic evidence was used in this situation but not used in the instances leading to the cancellation of all tickets in Section 101. Until these issues are addressed the ISA will continue the suspension of organized support.

The board would like to reiterate that Section 8 Chicago is an Independent Supporters’ Association (ISA) for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. The ISA is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization run by volunteers through an elected board of directors whose central goal is to represent all Fire supporters. Section 8 Chicago does not have members, nor does it have a structure that facilitates the recognition of “affiliated supporters groups”. The above statement by the Fire reflects that the Front Office continues to misconstrue Section 8’s purpose as an association and effectively bans organized support from any individual entering Toyota Park on Saturday. Such a widespread ban on top of bans of individuals who participated in a peaceful protest is unduly harsh and borders on illegality.

Suspension of all organized in stadium support.

We are disappointed that Fire management refuse to meet with supporters to discuss a solution for all fans. The ISA will be suspending organized support until management agrees to meet with the community regarding ticket holders in Section 101 and recognizing Sector Latino.

At this time tickets can still be purchased for Fire home games through the Section 8 ticket-leap, but those who attend the games should be aware that normal in game supporter activities, such as drums, banners and capos, will not be present at this time.

Regardless of current relations, our support for the Fire remains and we hope all supporters will join us at the Globe tonight to watch the Fire in tonight’s USOC Semi Final.

Today we remember Brandon Kitchens

On this day, eleven years ago, the Chicago Fire community lost one of it’s greatest supporters and most passionate members. Today we remember Brandon Kitchens, president and co-founder of Whiskey Brothers Aught Five.

Brandon was president of one of the Fire’s most passionate supporters groups – Whiskey Brothers Aught Five. He supported the Fire before, during and after his three tours of duty in the Middle East. He left the United States Air Force in May 2007 and started working with Chicago 2016, the organization working to bring the 2016 Summer Olympics to the city.

He had planned to attend Northwestern University in the fall of 2007 and begin working toward a Political Science degree. Brandon was easily found on Fire game days as he would stand on the capo-stand and lead chants for his fellow supporters. He used his passion to write a powerful message to fellow Fire fans prior to the start of the 2007 Fire season. His “Stand and Deliver” message has since become Section 8’s creed.

Brandon’s co-founder of wb05, Karl, gives us these words to remember Brandon by on this day.

To those who wish to follow Karl’s advice, we encourage everyone to take the time to read Stand & Deliver today.

Stand and Deliver