Mustangs hope to draw more soccer fans to Sears Centre

 
 
Updated 9/22/2014 9:35 PM
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  • The Chicago Mustangs soccer team wants to move home games from the Grand Sports facility in Hoffman Estates to the much larger Sears Centre Arena for the 2014-15 season. The village board will vote on a proposed agreement Oct. 6.

    The Chicago Mustangs soccer team wants to move home games from the Grand Sports facility in Hoffman Estates to the much larger Sears Centre Arena for the 2014-15 season. The village board will vote on a proposed agreement Oct. 6. courtesy of Proporcionada

A national championship and a generally higher profile for the sport of soccer have inspired the Hoffman Estates-based Chicago Mustangs to grow their fan base without leaving town -- moving into the relatively mammoth Sears Centre Arena.

"After we won the national championship, we have to step forward and move to the big facility," said Guilherme Veiga, vice president of soccer operations for the Mustangs.

While the team had been drawing about 1,100 people per game to the much smaller Grand Sports facility in Hoffman Estates, Veiga said the goal for the 2014-15 season is 3,500 to 5,000 people at each of the 10 home games from Nov. 8 through late winter.

Already the team has beefed up its marketing staff from two to five people.

"We need to put the brand out there," Veiga said. "And we need to do different things than the teams that failed before."

During the past eight years, two other indoor soccer franchises have called the Sears Centre home. First there was the Chicago Storm from 2006 to 2009, and then, more recently, the Chicago Soul.

On Monday, Hoffman Estates' finance committee recommended a one-season contract for the Mustangs at the village-owned facility, though the terms are expected to remain confidential to maintain the arena's competitiveness, officials said.

The village board will vote on the recommendation at its next meeting, Oct. 6.

Ben Gibbs, general manager of the Sears Centre, said there's very little risk to making the 10-game commitment to the up-and-coming team, particularly as its season is centered around the off-peak Christmastime.

"I'd be more nervous if I thought we were giving up dates that could make us more money," Gibbs said. "We'll do one season and see how it goes. Hopefully they'll do great and hammer me for a better deal."

Trustee Karen Mills asked Gibbs on Monday what the payment schedule would be for the team.

Gibbs explained that he should never have to be chasing after the franchise for money. A second deposit payment for arena expenses is due in late October, with all regular payments to be made in advance of each game.

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