Section 8 Chicago ISA Statement on Ownership Announcement

09132019PR S8C

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chicago Fire Supporters feel intense optimism and excitement after today’s announcement that Joe Mansueto has assumed majority ownership of the team.

Section 8 Chicago, the Independent Supporters’ Association of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club that represents the interests of all Fire fans, is pleased to share in the excitement that today’s announcement has brought to the Chicago soccer community. For more than ten years, Fire fans have demanded more from the team’s previous owner – more passion, more honor through victory, and a commitment to the tradition of excellence seen in the Fire’s early years. Over these years supporters engaged in concerted campaigns, from letter-writing to demonstrations and boycotts, as a means of drawing attention to the club’s unfortunate condition.

Today at noon, Chicago Fire fans were greeted with some of the most exciting and inspiring team news in more than a decade. Section 8 Chicago believes Joe Mansueto will bring in a new era of success for the Chicago Fire and, as such, we embrace this announcement as something wholly positive for the club, its supporters, and the Chicago soccer community.

Nicole Hack, Chair of Section 8 Chicago, reacting to the news said, “I see this as the biggest step yet to a new beginning for the club. We, as longtime supporters of the club, look forward to a new era of local ownership and extend our best wishes for the success of the club and new majority-owner Joe Manseuto.”

“My phone has been ringing nonstop for an hour”, said Karl Schuster, Director of Communications for Section 8 Chicago, ISA. “The spirit of excitement and optimism felt by Fire fans today is something many Fire supporters, especially younger ones, have only rarely if ever experienced.”

This is a moment of celebration for the Chicago Fire community the likes of which haven’t been experienced for quite some time. Across the city and suburbs tonight, in backyards and in the pubs and breweries, expect glasses to be raised in toasts to a brighter future for the club we love so dearly. GO FIRE!

###

Remember Brandon Kitchens

12 Years ago today Brandon Kitchens died on a soccer field on the northside of Chicago, playing the game that sustained him through years of military service in combat zones on the other side of the planet. Days later, a wake was held and a large group of his friends gathered at a pub just steps away from where Brandon, Mac, and I attended our first Fire games together and where the club secured their third US Open Cup title as well as their playoff berth in 2003. Fans watched on television as Calen Carr scored a goal and removed his black headband instead of celebrating, acknowledging the profound loss felt by Fire fans. Though Carr was relatively new to the club, he clearly understood that’s Brandon’s life and legacy would be a permanent part of the Chicago Fire tradition. 

In the next week, Brandon was buried in his native Georgia at Andersonville National Cemetery where his grandfather also rests. He is still there, under the soil and clay, with his Chicago Fire tattoo as one of the few things he took with him to the next life. 

He was tattooed with the Florian cross that makes up the Chicago Fire club crest as an affirmation of his lifelong commitment to honor the traditions of the then young club. He honored the traditions that go far beyond onfield performance, sacrifice, and hard work. He lifted up the intense and passionate relationships among supporters and chosen family and the better ideals of an America he served – inclusivity, diversity, and a common understanding of freedom and equality. To Brandon, these all of traditions were more than skin-deep.

Brandon’s influence has made a permanent mark on the club he loved. He posted ‘Stand & Deliver’ on the Section 8 message board while in a combat zone, aching for home and for some good news to relieve him, if only temporarily, from the horrors of war. Those words, never intended to be permanent, now have become a foundational document for the club and its most fervent supporters.

In June of this year, Brandon’s parents and brother attended the Fire away match in Atlanta. Unbeknownst to them, a new member of the Fire staff had received word of this and, recognizing without prompt the continued impact of their beloved son and brother, coordinated an exceptionally warm welcome for them, arranging for photographs and meetings with the team. So moved by the experience, his family traveled to Chicago a month later to see the return leg of the series. They were filled with joy to see how Brandon is so intensely remembered by his friends but also supporters and club personnel that had never met even met him. 

Mutual support, tradition, history, and passion are what makes a club a club. Brandon recognized that and made supporting the Chicago Fire a key component of his life. 

When his family was in town and we were speaking during the match the conversation turned to speculation what he’d be like now. After all, that’s hard to tell after 12 years. The consensus we reached at the end of the conversation is that he’d certainly be an ardent, critical, and demanding supporter of the Fire. 

July 3, 2019

Brandon was my best friend. I think about him every day and am often overcome with emotion this time of year. Take this as a personal appeal: we have a special and shared history as Chicago Fire supporters. We have tradition, honor, and passion combined with bonds of affection among this chosen family that cannot be broken. Take a moment to quietly reflect on that today and use your energy to take care of yourself and those around you. 

Peace, love, and empathy

Karl Schuster

Director of Communications, Section 8 Chicago
Co-Founder, Whiskey Brother Aught Five (WB05)

Peter Wilt on #SAVETHEFIRE

Earlier today, Peter Wilt shared his views on the Chicago Fire’s prospective name change. As the first President and General Manager of our club, his perspective and thoughtful words express what our team’s name means to our community better than anyone else.

Tradition, Honor and Passion. #SAVETHEFIRE

Tradition, Honor and Passion. That is more than a motto for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. They are words that the club has endeavored to live up to for more than two decades. The Fire’s tradition began October 8, 1997, the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire that threatened to ruin the greatest of Midwestern cities. The hardworking spirit of Chicago famously rebuilt the city from the ashes into a great American metropolis beyond the imaginations of those living in the pre-conflagration city. The team, named in honor of that spirit quickly grew traditions and passion with foundational supporters clubs like the Fire Ultras 98 and Arsonists as well as the Barn Burners who made Section 8 at old Soldier Field its spiritual home that served as a crucible of support and helped lead the MLS expansion team to unprecedented success.

The fans’ passion added to the club’s tradition by helping bring home countless honors: an unforgettable inaugural 1998 season that grew to mythical proportions featuring an 11-game regular season winning streak and the MLS Cup and US Open Cup championships. The Fire’s winning tradition and honors grew as the club became Kings of the Cup with US Open Cup championships in 2000, 2003 and 2006. The 2003 Supporters Shield, numerous conference titles and runner up position for the 2000 Supporters Shield, the 2000 and 2003 MLS Cups and 2004 US Open Cup all stoked the fans’ passion and added to the tradition and honors of this great club.

The tradition continued with the construction of the club’s dedicated home in Bridgeview. SeatGeek Stadium (nee Toyota Park) is a 20,000-seat soccer centric venue designed to look like a Firehouse, display the Illinois State Soccer Association Hall of Fame and put fans close to the action from every seat in the venue. The 2006 season provided the excitement of the new venue highlighted by the MLS All-Stars defeating Chelsea FC in the mid-season classic and the Fire winning another US Open Cup championship. 2007 was the start of an electric three seasons with Mexico legend Cuauhtémoc Blanco leading the club to three straight conference finals. Section 8 Chicago became a model independent supporters association with professional leadership, charitable giving and displays of support previously unseen in American club soccer. Sector Latino, fueled by Blanco’s popularity, grew into a major supporters group and brought welcomed diversity to the club’s fan base.

Since 2009 however, it has been a bleak decade for this once proud club. On the field, two knockout round playoff losses in ten seasons are the Fire’s only connection to the MLS playoffs. Five semi-final losses and one loss in the finals were the best the former Kings of the Cup could muster in the tournament they once dominated. Contentious experiences with fan groups have been numerous and leadership rotation has occurred at an alarming pace. After only two head coaches in the club’s first decade, the Fire has churned and burned through six in the last decade. There have been at least four different people calling the player personnel shots and four others leading the business during that time frame. 

The business results have been poor in the last decade and that is the apparent reason for the club’s pending departure from SeatGeek Stadium and the club’s consideration to abandon or alter some or all of its name and visual identity. 

No one from the current Chicago Fire administration has asked for my opinion on this topic, but as a member of the Ring of Fire, the team’s first general manager and longtime club president, I feel an obligation to share my thoughts publicly to those now leading the club. The move to the city is an understandable attempt to locate closer to the desirable young adult demographic on the city’s north side, soccer passionate new Americans throughout the city and affluent north shore youth soccer families. While the move would distance the club from DuPage County and other soccer hotbeds, Soldier Field is better located for public transportation accessibility and could help improve attendance. 

The change of brand identity however will only serve to sever, or at minimum obscure, the past and provide the perception of a fresh start – a fresh start with no tradition, no honor, no passion and no trophies. This is of great concern to me and others who have supported the club over the last 22 years. The name and visual identity of the club represent our connection to the glory days and our hopes of a return to the top of the League. We understand that down periods occur naturally, especially in a league like MLS that values and promotes parity. But we want to return with “OUR” team, with the Chicago Fire. Returning to the top is made sweeter by going through difficult times. It is appreciated more if it is still our team – the Chicago Fire. 

Famously, the original Chicago MLS ownership and I stood up to an apparel supplier and insisted on naming the team the Fire instead of the Rhythm. We asked various constituent groups in Chicago what the name should be, and their input guided us to embrace “Chicago Fire”. The logo designer was instructed to develop a timeless mark that would fit in with the Original Six NHL logos. He succeeded. From the Maltese cross representing a fire department badge to the six-pointed municipal flag star edging out of the mark’s inner circle, the Fire’s crest is classic, traditional, authentic and speaks towards Chicago and the club’s values of leadership, integrity and dedication.

The brand did not cause the “terribilis decennium” and changing it won’t fix it. Wiping the slate clean and disconnecting with the past – the good, the bad and the ugly – is the epitome of the cliché “throwing the baby out with the bath water”. Save our baby. Nurture it back to health and be proud of building the club back to relevance and success.

Brand and venue changes alone assure no positive steps towards building a new identity of tradition, honor and passion. That comes only with hard work, authentic and widespread community engagement and winning. If those things are done with the current brand, the Chicago Fire will return to its rightful place of prominence in Chicago and will build on its considerable foundation of honors and support. If those things are done with an altered or abandoned brand, a new fan base will slowly attach themselves to the new look club, but it will be at the expense of a generation of tradition, honor, passion and OG Chicago Fire fans.

Along with all like-minded supporters of the Chicago Fire, we implore the current caretakers of the club to preserve the Chicago Fire name and identity for future generations to love and support.

Very Best Regards,

peter

Peter J. Wilt

Ring of Fire 2006

Chicago Fire Fan Forever

Engine Company: Sacres Bleus, Ils Sont Fucke

Engine Company: Sacres Bleus, Ils Sont Fucke

To experience the joys of supporter culture former S8C Director of Events Jacob Peters provides us some background on Fire history, rivalries, and some footnotes on how to effectively criticize, troll, and generally enjoy Fire games. Next up, early Sunday game played in the shadow of a derelict baseball park. As always…

Sing in full voice. Hate with reason.

11:30am CT Sunday April 24th vs. L’Impact de Montreal

Montreal has been around awhile (longer than the Fire if you count their pre-MLS iteration), but due to their Canadian existence our paths have only crossed in league play. We’ve never played them in a playoff game, so it’s just regular season, and it would seem that there would be little reason for this fixture to gain meaning. Nonetheless it has for me.

I spent a year living in Montreal during which the Impact were announced to be the next Major League Soccer expansion club. My poor French was a stumbling block to becoming fully integrated into the city and their supporter culture. I still got to know the city, the amazing food, and tons of great people, but I always felt like my inherent anglo-ness was an easy out for anyone who wanted to ignore me on a given day. It was a very humbling experience that I don’t regret at all. Especially since it was a World Cup summer and Montreal might be the best city in the world to watch le Coupe du Monde.

First off, it’s Canada, so you don’t have a local bias (sorry, this sentence should have been in the Sick Burn section). Secondly, Montreal is an incredibly diverse city of immigrants from every corner of the globe, and almost all of those immigrant groups first moved to the street a block from my apartment, Rue St. Laurent. Meaning that every bar had a different team. You didn’t go to one bar and watch the entire day’s worth of games, you watched a game at the Mexican restaurant, then at the Portuguese club, then the English pub, then a plaza for the French game (the closest to a fan favorite).

Thirdly, because of the baseline bilingual nature of the city, everyone keeps their native tongue (even the native tongue of their grandparents in many cases). Which meant that there was a constantly shifting lingua franca (common language) that allowed me to get further out of my comfort zone and connect with my fellow Montrealers in ways that were normally cut out. My limited Spanish was a gateway to La Sala Rossa for Spain games, Petite-Italie was a land of heartbreak my classmate Laurence as my in for, and my love of bulgogi was all that was needed to stumble through Franglais (French-English mashup) with Korea fans in Quartier Chinois.

I have been to Fire v Impact games in Montreal on 3 occasions and the last time I went we instigated a group of 30 kids into being full throated supporters of their home team. It was awesome, they spoke very little english, but the ones who did translated what we were chanting to their peers, who would then respond with their own chant. At the end of the game we took photos together & it was truly bilingual Major League Friendship.

Montreal is also a good excuse for me to revisit old haunts, bike around, and get myself out of my comfort zone. I highly recommend the trip, and these 6 places in particular:

  • Dieu du Ciel!
    • My favorite brewery in North America. You can get their beer in Chicago, but the stuff they serve at the corner of Laurier and Clark is head and shoulders above.
  • Casa del Popolo
    • Concerts in the back room, beer, a coffee shop by day. Just a great place to go.
  • Cafe Santropol
    • Fresh salads, amazing garden, fresh baked bread, vegan sandwiches, but also non vegan ones. This is the balance to the heavy gut you can get from a trip to Montreal. Speaking of which…
  • La Banquise 24hr
    • Poutine fries, gravy (veggie friendly option too), cheese curds, and whatever else you want at this classic. There are tons of other places to get poutine, but this one just reminds me of late nights and heading off a hangover.
  • Snowdon Deli
    • Viande Fumee, basically if pastrami and texas brisket were melded into the same thing. The most famous place to get it is Schwartz’s, right by my old apartment, but there is always a line. Whereas at Snowdon (more closely resembling Manny’s) there is rarely a line, it’s arguably better, & you can wash down that pile of meat with…
  • Gibeau Orange Julep
    • It’s kind of like going to Orange Julius, only it looks like this:

Burns — : J’m’en Caliss L’Impact

As much as I love the city, the team es maudit caliss, tabarnak! From Harry Shipp, to Justin Mapp, to Dom Oduro, we have seen players that made a…impact for us, go to the Limp Act and remind us that we might have gotten their best years. Also, maybe I’m still just bitter that we were spurned by Drogba.

As the title says in Montrealais slang, I don’t give a f@#k about the Impact. Je suis seule amoureux de la ville.

Sound of Sirens — Fire Chants to Shout at the Fake French:

As my friend’s french husband says, “Quebecois is like if someone came up to you and tried conversing in middle English, only with some words they just seemed to have made up on the spot”, so maybe just sing old drinking songs all game. Or try out these player specific chants we’ve been workshopping:

  • Sapong Song (sung to “The Thong Song” by Cisco)
    • “Let me see Sapong,
      CJ likes to score goals
      Duh dun duh
      CJ makes defenders go
      Duh dun duh
      We like it when he scores goals,
      Duh dun duh
      Sapong pong pong pong pong”
  • No One Scores Like Gaitan (sung to “Gaston” from Beauty and the Beast)
    • “No one scores like Gaitan,
      Gets support like Gaitan,
      Makes assists so we get on the board like Gaitan,
      All the goals that he scores are exhilarating,
      Nobody scores like Gaitan!”
    • “No one’s quick as Gaitan,
      Scores free kicks like Gaitan,
      Makes us go out and buy a new kit like Gaitan,
      As a specimen yes he’s intimidating,
      My what a guy! Gaitan!”

Watch Commander — Where to See the Game, and What to Look For:
It’s New York, not gonna lie, lots of awesome things to do before and after the game, but it’s a midweek game, so it is unlikely that you’re going unless you’re a Fire fan living in the New York metroplex. In which case we love you, stay safe, & bring home 3 pts.

If you’re staying in Chicago, there are a few watch parties being promoted by different groups:

  • The Section 8 Chicago ISA Board and Logan’s Squares
    • AJ Hudson’s at Grace/Ashland
  • Logan’s Squares (renamed Armour’s Squares for the game) and Black Fires
    • ChiSox Bar and Grill next to Gate 5 at Guaranteed Rate Park (formerly U.S. Cellular Field, formerly New Comiskey Park)
      • Only away game this season that is on the same day as a White Sox home game, so come to a watch party before the game and then walk into the Sox game next door immediately after.
  • The Chicago Fire Front Office
    • Heineken Pub 97 at the CIBC Fire Pitch just north of Addison on Talman.
      • $4 Heineken drafts, Fire bingo, & raffle for a signed jersey

As well as the ability to watch the game at any of the normal partner bars as long as you get there a half hour before the game in order to get them to fire up their ESPN+ Streaming.

  • North (Lakeview, North Center, Roscoe, Lakeview)
    • The Atlantic Bar on Lincoln/Winnemac
    • The Globe Pub near the Irving Park just east of Damen
  • Northwest (Logan Square, Wicker/Bucktown/Ukie)
    • Cleo’s just east of Damen on Chicago
    • Go Tavern on Armitage just east of Kedzie
  • Loop and Lincoln Park
    • Fado on Grand/Clark
    • Galway Arms on Clark/Arlington
  • The Outer Limits
    • Rock Island Public House in Blue Island, 13328 Old Western Ave
    • Ryan’s Public House in Brookfield, 8942 Ogden Ave

If you know of any other bars in or outside of the city that play Fire games, let us know.


MATCHDAY INFO: April 12 Chicago Fire vs Vancouver Soccer Canucks

Tickets: DOWNLOAD THE SEATGEEK APP.  You will need it for all ticket purchases for the rest of the season. Tickets for the Harlem End, 208 and 137/138 are available at $20 each or two for $30. Get on it. Ticket sales end at 1pm Friday.

Tailgate: Heineken, one of the Chicago Fire’s generous sponsors, has provided us with some of the new, Chicago-made Newcastle Brown Ale.  The beer will be available for supporters 21 and over for a donation to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. I’m also hearing we’ll have some assorted swag as well. As this is a Friday, don’t expect as big of a food-related tailgate as we’d usually have. BYO or go get some Fritos, Funyuns, and rollerdogs at the gas station at 71st.

Merch:  Pocket tees went fast though there are a few left. Drop by the Pods at the North Lot to see what’s on offer this week. Our merch director is on vacation out in the desert looking for UFOs (this is seriously true).

Getting to the stadium: The Reggie’s Bus rides on and Pub to Pitch also offers coach bus rides from a wide variety of locations throughout the city. All buses are scheduled to arrive well before kickoff, traffic be damned! Also, remember to stop in the Pub to Pitch partner bars or Reggie’s to buy a drink, coffee, pop, or whatever before taking off. It is a nice way of saying ‘thanks’ to our rad host venues/bars.  For the motorists out there, its a shitshow – give yourself plenty of time.

Bonus: Check out Ruben’s chat over at Hot Time in Old Town with Vancouver fans and bask in how pessimistic they are of their chances on Friday. It’s good for the soul.

MATCHDAY INFO: March 16 Chicago Fire vs Seattle

Matchweek 3 sees the Chicago Fire against that team from Seattle (aka the old Atlanta). Excitement for the team is building with the Fire coming off of a late equalizer from CJ Sapong and Section 8 Chicago will be at the stadium bright and early preparing for the match, slinging dogs, and selling merch.

Tickets: Tickets for the Harlem End, 208 and 137/138 are available at $20 each. Ticket and scarf packages are available at $30 in the Harlem End. Ask anyone that’d bought one of these packages. They’re one hell of a deal!

Photo: Dan Giroux [CC BY-NC]
Tailgate:
Once again, Section 8 Chicago is hosting this early season tailgate providing tubed meat delights (Chicago style, duh). Vegan options, verified by two real-live vegans, are also available. For those of you 21 and up, donations to the Food Drive often can elicit a thank-you beverage from friendly community members.  Would you or your supporters club like to host a tailgate? Dates are available. Get at a board member or email us.

Getting to the stadium: 

The Reggie’s Bus rides again. Single rides and season passes are available. Check out their totally awesome scarves too. Pub to Pitch also offers coach bus rides from a wide variety of locations throughout the city. Per city laws, no drinking on the busses (we’re upset by this too, trust us).

Merch:

Merch Director Nate will be kicking it at the S8C tailgate near the Pods. Heavyweight crew neck sweatshirts were clutch last match. We also will have the distinctive Full Power HD, Niko, and other fresh scarves. Come see us. Cash and credit accepted. Keep your eyes on Section 8 Chicago’s merch Twitter for teasers and updates on the new stuff coming in soon. We’ve seen the designs, they’re going to be very Rad.

Weather:

It can’t be worse than last week, right? RIGHT? Looks like we’ll dodge the rain as of this writing but last week’s match was a reminder that it always feels colder out at 71st and Harlem. Take it from this writer, longjohns and gloves with full fingers will be in full effect. Also, pro-tip: you can get sunburned even when it’s cold. It looks like it will be sunny.

Have a question? Hit us up on Twitter @Section8Chicago or email communications@s8c.org.

On the MLS Code of Conduct and Commissioner Garber’s statement

Statement on MLS Code of Conduct

Section 8 Chicago rejects fascism and joins with all expressing concern for the safety and security of their fellow supporters. Commissioner Garber’s casual dismissal of known fascists freely attending matches is abhorrent. Fascism leads to genocide and has no place at MLS games or in the communities where they are played.

Concurrently, banners expressing support and solidarity for marginalized peoples across the country and globe are removed from MLS stadia–under the auspices of “political speech” policies Garber has approved in the MLS Code of Conduct. S8C joins the ISC, Portland’s 107ist, and other supporters throughout the league calling for the league to affirm that such policies do not preclude expressing our shared values of inclusion, tolerance, and mutual respect.

Denouncing fascism is not a divisive political act. It is necessary for fan safety. Don’t cross the line by obfuscating that reality.

– Section 8 Chicago ISA

MATCH PREVIEW: Chicago Fire vs Charleston discount AAA Batteries

To experience the joys of supporter culture, former S8C Director of Events Jacob Peters provides us 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 Saturday Feb. 23rd vs. the Charleston Battery

Definitely a bad look

No, they aren’t the factory team for a Duracell competitor. They are our gracious hosts for the Carolina Challenge Cup, a lower division team playing in the rebranded <with fake british announcer voice> “USL Championship”. The Battery are named after a really nice portion of reinforced coastline that has a…really problematic white supremacist-y monument (pictured on the left). They are tied for the oldest continuously operating professional soccer club in the United States, so you’ve got to give them credit for surviving through thick and thin, while hundreds of other lower division clubs have folded, paused, rebranded, moved, etc. in the years since they started in 1993.

The last time that the Fire played the Charleston Battery was in the 2013 Carolina Challenge Cup, winning 2-1. I could have sworn there had been another time between then and now, but we haven’t played them in a U.S. Open Cup game since they beat us in penalty kicks in 2010.

Sound of Sirens — Fire chants to Shout at the Battery:

We really have not played them enough to have any hateful team specific chants about them. I guess we can reuse “yellow fucking team”? But it’s a lower division team that we’re not likely to ever see more than once in a calendar year, so should even put in the effort? Just cheer pro Fire stuff and hope our boys build some confidence.

Watch Party:

Join Black Fires (and most of us!) at Reggie’s (2105 S. State Street)

 

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