The Chicago Red Stars are returning to Toyota Park.
The club announced on Thursday that all 2016 home games will be played at Toyota Park — the home of MLS’ Chicago Red Stars — in Bridgeview, Ill. Toyota Park has a grass playing surface.
Toyota Park served as home for the Red Stars in 2009 and 2010 — their two seasons in now defunct WPS — before the club temporarily dropped out of the top flight. High overhead costs to rent Toyota Park were a significant issue while playing at Toyota Park, a 20,000-seat, soccer-specific venue built in 2006.
“In 2016, it’s time to return to our original home – Toyota Park,” Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler said. “Our fans and sponsors will now enjoy an exciting game day environment in a major league stadium, while our players and the rest of the teams throughout the NWSL will enjoy the benefits of competing on a world class, natural grass pitch. It was hard to leave Toyota Park in 2010, but we are thankful for the warm reception and incredible support of Benedictine University and the Village of Lisle over the last three years. It gave us an intimate and affordable setting as our club and the league have grown.”
The Red Stars played their 2015 NWSL semifinal match at Toyota Park, as well as two regular-season home games (one as a double-header).
Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., served as the Red Stars’ home field in the first three seasons of the NWSL, but it was often criticized by fans — and players and opposing team officials — for having sub-standard artificial turf. Benedictine’s field is covered with lines for multiple sports and is a narrow pitch. It also housed locker rooms so far from the field that the Red Stars had to implement longer-than-usual halftime breaks (about 23 minutes) for teams to walk across campus to the locker rooms.
In a release, the Red Stars said they will continue to honor previously announced season ticket pricing through Sunday, January 10, 2016. Twenty-five percent of tickets available at Toyota Park will be below $25, the club says. The club also says that, working cooperatively with the Village of Bridgeview, it will offer free parking to all regular season home games in 2016.