The Chicago Fire’s big move from its long-time Bridgeview home to the iconic Soldier Field brought with it even more opportunities for fun for families with kids of all ages. The effort behind it was intentional since the Major League Soccer team knows the fast-paced games are an experience kids and the people who love them won’t soon forget.
And even better, making those memories won’t break the bank.
“One of the things that’s really fun is when a kid is playing soccer and they’re playing for their AYSO team on a Saturday morning and to be able to go and see a professional game in their backyard, whether to imagine what’s possible or to see the game at the highest level in our country, that connection is really cool,” says Kyle Sheldon, senior vice president of marketing for Chicago Fire.
Sheldon, a dad of two himself, hears from parents all the time about matches unlocking kids’ love for the game. “That part is really special, seeing kids fall in love with the game. I really think it’s a great game for kids from a teamwork standpoint and it requires a little more connection and community than maybe some of the other sports do,” Sheldon says.
Though there are only four home matches left in the regular season, expect the Chicago Fire to make them good ones for you and the kids. In particular, the Sunday, Sept. 26, noon match features a mini soccer ball giveaway and the evening match on Saturday, Oct. 23, features a traditional fan experience with flag and hat giveaways sporting the popular new Fire logo.
Whether you get tickets to these last four home matches or want to get a jump on planning for the 2022 season that begins again in February, it’s a perfect time to connect — or reconnect — with the Chicago Fire.
Here are some of the things that make seeing the Chicago Fire in action extra special:
This huge fan experience destination is the first thing you’ll encounter on matchdays outside Soldier Field. Think food trucks, giveaways, live music, face painting and kid-specific games, including a speed shot game and a reaction time game that puts kids’ reflexes on the clock.
Plus, get lots of looks at Sparky, the team’s popular Dalmatian mascot.
“It’s a really fun family-friendly atmosphere, which we are really excited about,” Sheldon says.
Inside the stadium, near Gate Zero, head to the lifesize, 10-foot-tall doghouse. It’s where all the cool kids, the Kids Club members and the kids who can’t wait to be members, hang out. There are giveaways, activities, games, time with Sparky and even a big slide. Sparky’s Doghouse is “the place for kids to check in,” Sheldon says. Don’t miss the photobooth with free photos to help families memorialize their great time. The concourse also has a videogame activation space with PlayStations to play the popular FIFA video game.
Special family seating
The Chicago Fire has created a special kids section in the stadium, Kids Corner, that is alcohol free and offers more fun programming for families. Sparky often hangs out in the section, too.
“We wanted to make sure we had a place in the stadium where kids and families could go and they knew they would be surrounded by other kids and other families,” Sheldon says.
The Chicago Fire Kids Club has been reimagined with the move to Soldier Field. Free for kids 12 and under, the club is broken into groups by age to really engage in ways specific to the needs and interests of each age group, even with different giveaways for the age groups. Kids Club members even get half-price season tickets when a parent buys their season tickets.
You can count on soccer to be non-stop action, all packed into two hours, nothing longer. Each half is 45 minutes long, with a 15-minute halftime, unlike baseball or football, which can drag on for innings or overtime and potentially lead to cranky, bored kids.
“What we found and what we hear from families is children are more engaged in the game,” Sheldon says. The non-stop action is digestible, and families can plan their day around attending a match. Those coming to the city can even plan spending time on the nearby Museum Campus where you’ll find Shedd, Field Museum and Adler Planetarium.
For kids curious about the world around them and eager to learn, the Chicago Fire can ignite that spark. “Soccer is such a global game,” Sheldon says. The team has 15 nationalities represented on it. At any given time, there might be 11 players from 11 countries playing together on the field, including homegrown players from Chicagoland. Think of the storytelling and the lessons of learning about the countries and cultures together as a family. “Soccer can really serve as a nice backdrop.”
Chicago Fire offers group opportunities, including birthday parties on matchday, Warmup Watchers that allow groups to get on the field before the match starts to see the players warmup and post-match on-field photo ops. And don’t forget to check out the fun summer soccer camps for all levels the Chicago Fire holds all around Chicagoland.
Snag a ticket to an upcoming match and learn more about Chicago’s team at chicagofirefc.com.