Take a deep breath.
The North American Soccer League is very close to coming to Chicago. What has been rumored for quite a while seems to be near reality. It’s hard not to imagine it is all but reality when you see the name Peter Wilt as the lead man for the project.
Wilt, Chicago Fire’s first ever president and a key player in the club’s creation, recently departed NASL side Indy Eleven to join Club 9 Sports in pursuit of creating a Chicago NASL team. If Wilt’s involvement alone was not enough to convince skeptics of seeing an NASL side come to fruition, Club 9 Sports involvement should erase most doubts.
The 14-person team includes the leadership of Prometheus Capital, a merchant bank that really seems to know what to do in situations that involve large quantities of money. I would suggest reading about the Club 9 Sports people here.
It is pretty clear there has already been significant headway in launching an NASL team in Chicago. Wilt took to the airwaves today to make some pretty strong claims about where they are in the process:
.@PeterWilt1 “We want fans to have a sense of ownership and will offer fans the chance to own a small stake of ownership in the club”— Soccer Morning (@SoccerMorning) January 12, 2016
.@PeterWilt1: “For a short term solution, Soldier Field is our target but we plan to build a soccer specific stadium in the city of Chicago”— Soccer Morning (@SoccerMorning) January 12, 2016
.@PeterWilt1: “We’ve already met with the city’s planning commissioner and have identified multiple sites that could work for a stadium”— Soccer Morning (@SoccerMorning) January 12, 2016
Sounds like a man with more than just a plan. 2017 seems like an ambitious launch date, but that is the rumor and judging by what Wilt has already publicly said, it might be possible.
I am sure the prospect of an NASL team in the city limits is exciting to many fans as is the possibility of owning a small stake in the club. Organizations such as Chicago Sting Supporters Trust have already been working on trying to join such an effort.
While excitement is already building for the club, there is a lot that is still unknown, including the potential name. The obvious choice is Chicago Sting. Nostalgia sells and fans love the name, but that is no guarantee. A deal to play in Soldier Field could still fall through, potentially derailing a 2017 launch date. Wilt and Co. still may need more investors. There are a number of situations that could cause problems, but the effort is off to a strong start and further along than most people likely expected.
Hot (Time) Take
All I want is for people to enjoy what they choose to enjoy. Even though this news is still very new and very much developing, the proverbial lines in the sand have started to be drawn by soccer fans who live in and around Chicago. On one hand, you have people disillusioned with the Fire painting the MLS as an evil empire of ultimate capitalism while touting the NASL as the pure alternative, even though NASL also has rich owners like Carmelo Anthony charging fans money for tickets, merchandise and concessions. On the other side, MLS purists are starting to go on the attack, trashing a team that doesn't even exist yet and accusing the NASL of trying to ruin the MLS team they love.
So let's just all calm down. If you want to love, or already love, this unnamed NASL team, more power to you. Chicago Fire's existence should not and will not get in your way. If you want to love the Fire, awesome. An NASL team isn't going to cause your favorite team to fold. If you want to love both *GASP* that is also allowed.
Soccer is a great game. This potential team just means there could be more of it for people in the Chicago area to consume.