The ongoing conflict between Chicago Fire supporters and the front office appears to be over.
After months of delicate negotiations, and a few weeks of hints leading up to last night’s ISA board meeting, Section 8 Chicago released a statement today [PDF] announcing a new agreement with the club. With this deal, Section 8 have ended their boycott of Fire home matches, which began as a response to the club’s banning of Sector Latino. As part of the agreement, a new auxiliary supporter section has been designated in Section 137, directly behind the south goal.
In the statement, newly elected Section 8 chairperson Nicole Hack encouraged fans to come back to Bridgeview.
“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,” Hack said. “We encourage supporters to embody the values instilled in us as supporters of our club— Tradition, Honor, Passion.”
In a separate statement released by the club, Fire president and GM Nelson Rodriguez also praised the new agreement in the club’s statement.
“Over the course of four productive and informative meetings during the offseason— where we saw a genuine spirit of cooperation— the Club and supporters have agreed on a path forward,” Rodriguez said. “The focus will be combining our efforts in support of each other and ultimately giving our team home field advantage. 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. Our players are looking forward to having loud and colorful sections at both ends of the stadium throughout the season.”
The club will also be partnering with Section 8 for the year-long Fire For Food campaign, which raises money and awareness for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The campaign was started last year by Tomszak, now Section 8 Vice Chair, who announced last night that the 2019 campaign has already reached 13% of its goal. The first joint push between Section 8 and the club will begin the week of March 4th, leading up to the Fire’s first home game of the season on the 9th.
In their own statement this morning, Sector Latino clarified that the club still refuses to recognize them as a supporters’ group, although they encouraged former ticket holders in Section 101 to return to the stadium this season and purchase new tickets in Section 137.
S8C hopes that this is the beginning of a healthier and more equitable bond with the club.
“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.”