Sears Centre negotiating to host new soccer team

Posted4/12/2012 6:07 PM

The Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates may soon be home to yet another sports team.

Ben Gibbs, general manager of the Sears Centre, confirmed Thursday that arena officials are in "the later stages" of talks with the Chicago Kick, a new Major Indoor Soccer League team, about hosting their 13 home games at the arena. He said that no decisions will be made until the village board approves the idea.

"I think its something that has a chance to be very profitable for the building," Gibbs said, adding that he is hopeful a decision will be made by the end of April. "I'm very pleased. Even if this doesn't work out, it's only because we thought we could do something better with those days."

A news release dated for issuance next week announced the addition of the team to the league for the 2012-13 season and stated that the franchise "is in the process of completing an agreement that would see the team play at Chicago's Sears Centre."

The news release was available at the Daily Herald's Business Ledger Newsmakers Forum in Rolling Meadows on Thursday, but league officials declined to comment when questioned about the announcement. Chicago Kick officials could not be reached Thursday.

The Major Indoor Soccer League 2012-13 season begins in the first weekend of November and concludes in the beginning of March. The Kick will be added to the league's central division, which includes teams from Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas. According to the news release, Kick practices will also be held in the village, at the Grand Sports Arena.

Gibbs said the Sears Centre first hosted an indoor soccer team in 2006, with the Chicago Storm, and that they were successful for a few years.

"Soccer's a pretty standard sport for mid-size arenas," he said. "We have the equipment to do it. To us there's no cost to start it up."

But he said he does not want to compare the financial impact the Chicago Kick might have on the arena to that of the Chicago Express hockey team, which announced Friday that it was folding after only one season.

"We're not going to make as much money (with a soccer team), but at the same time I wouldn't expect them to," he said, adding that the Express played 36 home games at the arena, more than double the home games the Kick has plans to play. "I expect them to take their dates off the (arena's) calendar and make them profitable for the arena."

He added that if the arena does welcome the Kick it is not simply to replace the Express.

"Certainly, it's very nice timing," he said, but added he has been talking with the team for almost two years. "We don't just rush in to get new tenants because we need them."

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