When watching a professional soccer game, the midfield seats, with their sweeping view of the action, are the best in the house. At Toyota Park, home to professional MLS team the Chicago Fire, they’re now also the most luxurious.
In 2013, the team opened the new Second Star Club, a space located at a premium vantage point with high-end dining, meeting, and seating amenities. The name is an homage to the city flag, on which four stars symbolize four significant events in Chicago’s history; the second star represents the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, for which the soccer team is named. The club caters to corporate partners and high-rolling Chicago Fire fans alike, and its opulent accommodations make for the ultimate fan experience.
Toyota Park opened in 2006, and it has always had box suites available. But in recent years, the Chicago Fire wanted to up the stadium’s ante by offering big spenders a better viewing environment. “We wanted an event space that exclusively catered to our high-end clientele,” says Mike Ernst, vice president of ticket sales, service, and club operations for the team. “We wanted them to be able to view the field from the club’s location, and this wasn’t possible with our first club [space].”
In Toyota Park’s original plan, the club seating had been located at one end of the stadium, removed from the action taking place on the field. According to Ernst, this is common for luxury boxes because they’re usually placed where “seats go unsold.” “We looked at a lot of other super clubs in similar facilities,” he says. “In the end, we made the decision to combine some of our best suites already located at midfield and elevated above the action to make a super club space.”
The Second Star Club is in a prime position, but it also hits all the Chicago Fire’s design expectations. It offers 169 seats divided into four boxes sited for an optimal spectator experience. “The seats are like seats you would find in a sports car,” Ernst says. “They even have heaters, which really make viewing the games that take place in October a much more enjoyable experience.”
The boxes feed into a large, flexible clubhouse that’s divided into conference, dining, and social spaces. Its modern aesthetic incorporates luxe materials such as leather and stainless steel, and its state-of-the-art A/V system makes it an ideal place for corporate business gatherings and company mixers. Even its food exceeds typical clubhouse standards. “Sodexo manages the food, and the menu is constantly rotating,” Ernst says. “It’s much more akin to what you would find in the best steakhouse than it is to even luxury food options at other stadiums.”
The Second Star Club is just now rounding out its first full operating season, but already it’s starting to build its reputation as one of the best clubhouses available in the city. To the Chicago Fire organization, this accomplishment is right on target. “We want to be the premier space in Chicago when hosting sporting events,” Ernst says. “When you think of premium clubhouse facilities, we want the Second Star Club at Toyota Park to be thought of as the best and to be thought of first.”