City council approves Chicago Fire training facility

Land initially intended for affordable housing

Alderman Jeanette Taylor and CHA official Ann McKenzie  with an aerial of the soccer facility (Twitter, CHA, Google Maps, Getty)
Alderman Jeanette Taylor and CHA official Ann McKenzie  with an aerial of the soccer facility (Twitter, CHA, Google Maps, Getty)

The Chicago City Council approved a hotly contested plan to build a soccer training facility on land owned by the Chicago Housing Authority, after initially rejecting it.

On Tuesday, the Zoning committee voted 7-5 to reject a revised proposal to build a training facility for the Chicago Fire soccer club on the Near West Side, the Chicago Tribune reported. Less than a day later, however, exiting zoning chair Ald. Tom Tunney took up a second vote.

With more aldermen in attendance at the second vote on Wednesday, the proposal was approved in a 10-5 vote. After further discussion, the plan got full council approval in a 37-11 vote.

The $80 million, 24-acre complex will include two hybrid grass pitches, a goalkeeper pitch, three synthetic turf pitches, an underground heating system, a 147-vehicle parking structure and an office building.

The site is where ABLA public housing complexes once stood. A number of advocates tried to block the new project.

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“In this proposal, land that is promised for desperately needed affordable housing to predominantly serve the needs of Black families will be given to a billionaire with negligible benefits for the thousands of families of color seeking to live in Chicago’s opportunity areas,” a group of opponents, including members of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, wrote in a letter to the city’s Plan Commission.

Some have said that the CHA, which supports the soccer facility being built, has fallen behind on its promise to create more affordable housing for the city.

”The Plan for Transformation has failed. They absolutely have not built any housing,” Ald. Jeanette Taylor said at the Tuesday meeting. “CHA has a responsibility to not only come to the council but to do something different. They haven’t done what they’re supposed to do.”

CHA official Ann McKenzie insisted the soccer facility wouldn’t result in a loss of affordable housing.

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Joe Mansueto and the Chicago Housing Authority owned land at Roosevelt Road and Ashland Avenue (Getty, Chicago Fire FC, Google Maps)
CHA land goes to billionaire’s pro soccer team, despite housing shortage

— Victoria Pruitt