HBD, Chicago Fire! Chicago’s MLS team is turning the big 2-0 in 2017 and they’re going BIG this season so you’re not tempted to stay home. With 11 more home games with fun fan engagement opportunities between now and October 15 and youth programs you probably never knew existed, there are plenty of opportunities to see this team set the city on fire.

Pre-game at Toyota Park
Begin your Fire experience with Fire Fest!  Just inside Gate B in the northwest corner of Toyota Park you’ll find pre-game activities that start 2 hours prior to kickoff. Fans can enjoy music, games, giveaways and more before heading into the venue.  Featured activities include an inflatable field perfect for a quick 3v3 game, Chicago Fire Speedshot to test your leg power and how fast you can shoot, 4+1 Stadia to prove you’re the best in this 5-a-side street soccer game, and Soccer Pool, a combo between snooker and soccer.

The team shows their love for fans with game day activities
Catching a game is fun enough, but Fire is upping the ante with themed nights. Join the team for post-match fireworks and $2 hot dogs on July 1. The dogs are so good, you’ll want to come back on August 5 for another $2 hot dog night. The 20th Season Celebration takes place on August 19 with a playing card giveaway and commemorative jersey auction. The force of the Fire will be with you August 26 for Star Wars Night, Hispanic Heritage Day takes place September 16, snag a free key chain on September 30 and give yourself a pat on the back October 15 during Fan Appreciation Day. Think that’s all there is? Nah. Check their website for the lowdown on more activities.

Keep your eyes peeled for these notable players
The club added two new stellar players for the 2017 season that’ll make Fire games that much more exciting. Be on the lookout for highly decorated Bastian Schweinsteiger (#31), the team’s newest acquisition, who spent 13 seasons as a key midfielder at Bayern Munich and most recently played for Manchester United. He now calls Chicago home with wife, former tennis player and equally talented French Open champ, Ana Ivanovic.

Dax McCarty (#6) is a standout midfielder who has appeared in almost 300 MLS regular season games throughout his 12-year MLS career. A native of Florida, he represented our country in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as the 2015 MLS All-Star, and was named an MLS Best XI Honoree.

Chicago Fire plays host to the best of the best
It’s exciting times in Chicago soccer! Adding to this milestone year’s significance is news that Chicago Fire will host the 2017 Target MLS All-Star Game vs Real Madrid at Soldier Field on Aug. 2. The league’s 22nd annual mid-summer match will provide soccer super fans a chance to celebrate the sport and see a litany of top players from around the world.

Sign up for a camp that’s a real kick in the grass
Starting in June through the beginning of September, The Chicago Fire Soccer Club is hosting full and half-day summer camps at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch and at more locations in the Chicagoland area than we can name. So, no doubt, there’s a camp in your neck of the woods. These camps offer mini (and not-so-mini) soccer fans, ages 2-16, the opportunity to learn from professional and experienced staff, regardless of their soccer skills. Every camper receives a dri-fit jersey, soccer ball, player evaluation and a ticket to their unique Graduation Day event during a Chicago Fire gameday at Toyota Park.

Not a soccer player (or fan)? Not a problem . . . there’s still a program for you!
You don’t have to be a soccer athlete (or even a highly skilled athlete) to benefit from Chicago Fire’s youth programs. Regardless of preferred sport, kids can sign up for Athlete 2.0, a speed, agility, quickness (SAQ) program. These classes, led by a professional trainer and intended to assist youth athletes in reaching their highest potential, take place at Fire House Fitness, a state-of-the-art workout facility located at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch.

Sign up for the Club’s club . . . Junior Supporters Club
Be a Club insider by signing up junior for the Junior Supporters Club. This free program offers fun and engaging ways to interact with the team, including special ticket offers, a monthly e-newsletter, access to exclusive contests and content, an invite to exclusive player autograph sessions and a chance to win Junior Supporter of the Month Matchday Experience.

A good-to-know note for parents
To keep the space safe, common areas may not be blocked by parked strollers. Strollers may be checked at the Guest Services booth. All children 2 years old and older require a ticket to gain admission to stadium events.

Toyota Park
7000 Harlem Ave.
Online: chicago-fire.com

Do your littles have a favorite Fire player? We’d love to hear about it in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers