The Gaffer's Fire match

Experience "better than I could have ever imagined."

The last time I attended a Major
League Soc cer game was nine years ago when San Jose Earthquakes beat Miami
Fusion 1–0 in South Florida to advance to the 2001 MLS Cup Final. Although we
didn’t know it at the time, the game ended up being Miami’s last ever MLS
appearance. It also marked my last MLS game until this past week end when I
visited Chicago for business meetings and visited Toyota Park to see the
Fire’s last home game of the 2010 season. With both Chicago and DC United out
of the play off race, my expectations weren’t that high.

On an unseasonably warm Saturday
afternoon in Chicago, it seemed like the perfect day to watch a game of professional soccer. So after having my first taste of Chicago-style deep dish
pizza in down town Chicago, I headed in a car toward Bridgeview with good
friend and MLS Talk blogger Lou Bruno. Immediately after exit ing the highway, the traf fic was backed up on the road way which was a promising sign
especially since this was Brian McBride’s last home game for his local team.

From the moment the car entered the
park ing lot of Toyota Park to the minute we left, I must say that I was
stunned at how wonderful the Chicago Fire experience was and how every
thing was so well organized. The view of the stadium perched on an incline
above the parking lot was a simple but beautiful sight to see. Walking
into the stadium and up the steps, it was encouraging to see that there were
plenty of Fire employees and security on hand to handle the crowds. Walking
straight to our seats in sec tion 125, the first thing that struck me was how
there wasn’t a bad seat in the stadium. The seats feel close up to the action,
while the open lower bowl cre ated a comforting and relax ing feeling.

As the sun shone on a beautiful
autumn day, I watched the pre-match buildup as fire works exploded and teams
were announced. Looking around the crowd, I was pleasantly surprised to see
so many families and young children sit ting down and prepar ing them selves
for the game. It was the type of environment that if I lived near Chicago I
would bring my wife and chil dren to each week. And then within min­utes, the
game kicked off.

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