SBD/Issue 52/Franchises

MLS Fire Fan Group Section 8 Chicago Suing Team Over Debt Owed

MLS Fire Fan Group To Sue Team Over
Debt Owed For Ticket Sales, Stolen Banner
Section 8 Chicago, an umbrella organization of MLS Fire fans who sit in two sections at the north end of Toyota Park, "expects to file suit against the team early next week after failing to come to an agreement concerning a debt owed the group for ticket sales and a missing banner," according to Nick Firchau of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The $25,000 the fan group is seeking is "derived from two debts -- roughly $15,000 garnered through a longstanding agreement for ticket sales, and $10,000 for a giant banner allegedly lost or stolen while being stored at Toyota Park earlier this year."  Fire President Dave Greeley said that the team had "long intended to settle any debts with the organization after the season, which ended Sunday." Greeley: "Section 8 is a valuable entity for the Fire and Toyota Park, and we want to resolve this and avoid any acrimony with their organization." Section 8 Chicago "oversees 14 Fire fan groups and maintains funds for various needs, including banners and other game-day adornments, as well as travel arrangements for fans to attend road games." Since '05, a "large portion of those funds has come from an agreement struck" in '04 with former Fire President & GM Peter Wilt. Section 8 Chicago Chair Ben Burton said that the deal "calls for Section 8 to receive 75 cents for every individual game ticket and $1.50 per game for every season ticket sold in Section 118 of Toyota Park." Wilt: "Transparency solves so much. Unfortunately, on the Fire's side, a lack of transparency naturally leads to suspicion." The Fire would not disclose '08 ticket-sale numbers for Section 118, but Greeley "dismissed the $15,000 figure," and said, "It's not even close." Burton said that section 118 "seats 550," and with his count of 380 season-ticket holders, Section 8 "would be owed $11,400 for the 20 home games this season." Burton: "Unfortunately, it's entirely possible to love the team on the field and still be at odds with the ... front office" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/26).

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