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NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars to host first soccer game at Wrigley Field since 2012

NWSL's Chicago Red Stars to host first soccer game at Wrigley Field since 2012

The Chicago Red Stars will play the first NWSL match at Wrigley Field in June against Bay FC. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Soccer will be returning to Wrigley Field when the NWSL's Chicago Red Stars host expansion side Bay FC on Saturday, June 8.

The event will be the first soccer match at the home of MLB's Chicago Cubs since Italy's A.S. Roma beat Poland's Zagłębie Lubin in a July 2012 friendly. The game will be the first NWSL match to be played at the "Friendly Confines."

The Red Stars, who are currently second in the NWSL with a 2-0-1 record, will be led by U.S. Women's National Team members Alyssa Naeher and Mallory Swanson, who is married to Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson.

In 2022, the team played a match at Soldier Field, home of the NFL's Chicago Bears. A club-record crowd of 23,951 watched the Red Stars take on the San Diego Wave FC.

Making the game 'more accessible' to fans

Playing the match in Chicago proper is part of "an effort to make women’s professional soccer more accessible to sports fans" in the city, the team said in a release.

Since 2016, the Red Stars have played home matches at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois, which is a half hour outside of Chicago. Their attendance was worst in the NWSL in 2023 with an average of 4,848 fans.

A stadium closer to the city is something that Red Stars ownership, led by Laura Rickets, whose family also owns the Cubs, has been eyeing since purchasing the team last September.

"The ideal place would be much closer to the city, perhaps in the city," Ricketts said. "These are all things we are going to look at. It's definitely a challenge/opportunity — perhaps the biggest challenge slash opportunity for this team. It's going to require work. It's not daunting to me at all because of the experience that I've had with the Cubs, but it will be work and it will take time."

With other Chicago-area teams seeking funds for new stadiums, Red Stars management is hoping to be a part of those conversations involving public funding.

“Women’s sports need to have a seat at the table," said Red Stars team president Karen Leetzow in February. "We need to be in the mix because otherwise we’re just going to end up chasing our tail around how to grow women’s sports.

"If you’re a politician, what better way for you to leave a lasting legacy in the state of Illinois or the city of Chicago than to do something that’s never been done, which is provide meaningful funding for women.”

The Red Stars' lease at SeatGeek Stadium runs until December 2025.

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