Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Fire coverage shows Loop media arrogance

By Ray Hanania

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club was founded on Oct. 8, 1997, on the 126th anniversary of the Chicago fire that destroyed most of the city’s wooden buildings and homes.

Chicago got a new start, and that same spirit fueled the excitement of the new soccer team.

The Chicago Fire first played in 1998 at Soldier Field, a historic stadium opened in 1924 as Municipal Grant Stadium. It was a spectacular stadium, then. A year later, the stadium name changed at the urging of Chicago Gold Star mothers to Soldier Field.

Driving past the Lake Shore Drive stadium was impressive. The tall, double row of columns. Darkened stone. Historic name. It was a National Historic Landmark, which preserves the nation’s greatest historic buildings.

RayHanania 1

Ray Hanania

That all changed when the owners decided they could make more money by putting a big ashtray that looked like a flying saucer from the movie “Mars Attacks” crash-landed on top of the stadium’s iconic colonnades in 2003.

The image of those Roman columns was the big draw even before the Chicago Bears finally moved there in 1971, an image destroyed by the expansion. It was de-listed as a National Historic Landmark.

In 2006, before the Martian spacecraft landed on the stadium, the Chicago Fire moved to its own iconic stadium in Bridgeview, then called Toyota Park.

Soldier Field was the home of the Chicago Bears. Toyota Park was the home of the Chicago Fire. The move also mimicked the patterns of the fans, who also fled the city’s gang-plagued, violent streets to the safer suburban outback.

For 13 years, the Chicago Fire Soccer Club played competitively in Bridgeview at its stadium, then called Toyota Park and in 2019, SeatGeek Stadium. The Bridgeview stadium was built specifically for a soccer team.

The Chicago Fire had a phenomenal team, but one of its biggest challenges didn’t have to do with the talent of the players, coaches or management. It had to do with news media arrogance. When the Chicago Fire was at Soldier Field, the major TV stations covered the games often. As soon as they moved to Bridgeview, they were dropped from most media prime time coverage and were relegated to high school soccer team status.

As soon as the Chicago Fire returned to Soldier Field in 2019, that changed again. Suddenly you see the Fire slide-kicking goals on WLS, WBBM, WMAQ, FOX32 and WGN TV news reports. You can see how much coverage the downtown media gives to Chicago Fire games now compared to their failure to cover the team when in the suburbs.

The problem isn’t about SeatGeek Stadium. It’s not about the Chicago Fire. It’s about how the news media treats the suburbs like a red-headed stepchild. That’s a psychological syndrome referring to a mistreated, marginalized child who isn’t embraced by a family. Call it the Cinderella syndrome, if you are a redhead.

The Chicago news media is plagued by Loop arrogance. They are based in Chicago, and they have conditioned audiences, mostly located in the suburbs, to accept their prioritization of news. They cover the smallest news event in Chicago more importantly than the biggest suburban news events.

I’ve explained this before. “Suburban” comes from two words with clear meanings, “sub” and “urban.” “Sub” meaning “below” and “urban” meaning “city life.”

Most suburbanites fled the ugliness of Chicago’s violence when it started to boil over in the 1960s and they fled to the “sub-urbs.” The media didn’t, though, because a weekend murder rate of 10 kids and 80 wounded sold newspapers. The media mantra in terms of what is important is, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Death and shocking tragedy are more important to them than real news.

But more importantly is how they have held the suburbs hostage to their pathetic lack of coverage. They only fly out to the suburbs with their alien vans rigged up with giant satellite dishes when someone gets killed. I think they focus on suburban deaths and negative news over positive suburban news in order to minimize the perception of the city’s skyrocketing murder rate. They want to balance things out.

Positive suburban news is so often overlooked, not covered by the big city news media. That’s why they ignored the Chicago Fire in the suburbs and fawn over it today near the Loop.

In truth, no soccer team is going to change that. Chicago wears a Michael Myers horror mask; and according to the downtown Chicago news media, that’s all that is important.

The only people who can change that is you. Stop watching the major TV news stations. Who cares about downtown Chicago. Return the focus to what’s important–where you live!

Check out more of Ray Hanania’s work at Hanania.com.

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