CHICAGO HOUSE FAILURE?
Updated: Feb 13, 2022
Chicago House Athletic Club is Chicago's second men's pro team, having played in NISA, the 3rd division of US soccer. We discuss the ways the House landed themselves in trouble.
I was rooting for Chicago House but a lot of factors led to them being considered a failure after their first season.
Already facing the constraints of the pandemic, Chicago House put themselves in more trouble by not fully understanding Chicago soccer culture. They promised us a team full of Chicago players but only had 3 Chicago players and a few more players from Illinois. This wasn't their fault since the best 17-25 year olds in Illinois didn't tryout for the team, due to differences in finance and personal goals. The best players in Illinois make more money in local leagues than some players in the 3rd division of US soccer. These guys could make anywhere between 100$ and 1000$ a week just from local leagues, not including the money they make from their full or part time jobs.
Besides the money difference, these players don't want to play professional soccer anymore since they're comfortable with their life. Going pro also means having practices and having other team duties outside of the field which isn't worth it for these guys who's goals to go pro died some time ago.
Another mistake made by the front office was starting off at SeatGeek stadium in their first season. If they had a roster full of local players, SeatGeek stadium might've worked since people would actually go support those players, but that wasn't the case. In the early stages of their project, Chicago House considered Hanson Stadium and UIC Flames Field, both better options than SeatGeek. Once they announced SeatGeek stadium as their home field, we knew they were set for attendance failure if they didn't field a team filled with Chicago players. Pandemic or not, their attendance average would not be any different with their poor roster and home field choices.
What Needs to Change
If we took a time machine back to 2020 and tried this again, we would have to change a few things to see greater success on and off the field. We would have to start on a smaller field like UIC Flames field, which although has a smaller capacity, the atmosphere would feel more lively week in and week out. Second in the agenda, which will forever cause problems, is to get more of the best Chicago players to tryout for the team and convince them to stay with the team for at least one season. I love what Chicago House did off the field but their subpar performance off the field left me wanting more.
The House hasn't said much about the upcoming NISA season which talks about the uncertainty of their future. I'm really hoping they leave SeatGeek stadium and come play their homes in Chicago as it'll help them bounce back from an empty looking stadium.