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Ground Broken On AEG's New Chicago Soccer Stadium

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — After announcing plans for the construction of a world-class stadium for soccer, concerts and special events earlier this year, the Chicago Fire, its parent company, AEG, and the Village of Bridgeview held a ceremonial groundbreaking for Bridgeview's new $70 million, 20,000-seat sports and entertainment stadium. The venue will house the Major League Soccer team permanently in Chicago's Southland region starting in the Spring of 2006.

Upon its completion, the venue will be only the fourth major soccer-specific stadium in the United States. FC Dallas is developing its new stadium in Frisco, Texas and the grand opening for the venue is staged for Spring 2005. Last year in Carson, CA, AEG completed The Home Depot Center, home to MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy, CD Chivas USA and all U.S. National Soccer Teams. The Columbus Crew Stadium was inaugurated in 1999 as the first soccer-specific stadium in the country.

"This groundbreaking symbolizes yet another breakthrough for the Chicago Fire, the Village of Bridgeview and the entire Southland," said Bridgeview Mayor Steve Landek. "Like Major League Soccer players themselves, our residents are modest, hard-working, approachable people with big dreams. I thank the Chicago Fire for recognizing these attributes as strengths. My heartfelt thanks also goes to the taxpayers of Bridgeview, the Bridgeview Village Board and the Southland region for supporting this effort."

The new stadium will be located at 71st and Harlem on approximately 100 acres. The 20,000-capacity stadium, which will be funded by the Village and operated by AEG, can be expanded to 30,000 at a later phase. Its concert seating will have a 28,000 capacity. The Fire will be the stadium's primary tenant, and the site will house the team's offices and official training center. As a multi-purpose facility, the stadium will not only serve as a major concert venue but as a resource for the rapidly growing youth soccer communities and the Southland area at large.

"Today's groundbreaking is truly a historic moment for the Village of Bridgeview, the Chicago Fire, Major League Soccer and AEG," said AEG President and CEO Timothy J. Leiweke. "Our commitment to create a world-class stadium for soccer, concerts and other special events will not only bring outstanding sports and entertainment right here to Bridgeview, but will also bring tremendous economic investment, jobs, resources and new opportunity to this great community. We thank Mayor Landek for his support, leadership and vision and look forward to our partnership in the years to come."

In addition to the 20,000 seats –1,500 of which will be club seats -the stadium will house 48 luxury suites, a soccer pub, food courts, retail displays, a press room, training rooms, four locker rooms and meeting rooms.

Chicago-based Turner Construction Company and Rossetti will oversee the construction and architecture projects, respectively. The stadium is expected to create more than 700 construction jobs, and nearly 350 new jobs will be required for the operation of the facility once it opens. In addition, the activity brought by the stadium is expected to help inject more than 200 jobs in the local economy.

Additionally, ICON Venue Group, a division of AEG, will also play a role in overseeing the development and operation of the stadium. "It is thrilling to see the vision, dream, concept and design begin to take tangible shape and become reality. The Village, AEG and the entire Southland have contributed to this great day," said Fire President and GM Peter Wilt. "This stadium is being built as a result of the efforts of thousands of people in the soccer, music, government and business communities. This stadium will allow the Fire to retain the revenue it generates and control its schedule and its fan services."

The Fire introduced its 2006 Waiting List program, a sales initiative for soccer fans interested in purchasing some of the first seats at the new Bridgeview Stadium. For a $50 seat deposit, fans will be placed on a waiting list after current season ticket holders and have the opportunity to purchase full and partial ticket plans. Some added benefits of being placed on the Fire's Waiting List include a tour of the stadium before its grand opening, discounted merchandise and invitations to special events.

During the development process, the Fire will play its 2005 season at Soldier Field, its original home. The Fire played at Soldier Field from 1998–2001 and spent the 2002–2003 seasons at North Central College's Cardinal Stadium in Naperville due to renovations to the lakefront venue. The team returned to Soldier Field in October of 2003 and played there during the 2004 MLS campaign before record-breaking crowds. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen