Chicago has a new soccer club, and it’s looking to make an impact both on and off the pitch. With Major League Soccer club Chicago Fire and National Women’s Soccer League club Chicago Red Stars enjoying success in recent years, the idea to bring a third Chicago team to the professional divisions was pitched by an investor group in September 2020. In November, the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) announced that the league had accepted the Chicago team, which would begin playing in August 2021. In February of this year, the team revealed its name: Chicago House Athletic Club (AC).
The team’s name comes from house music, which developed in the eighties in inner-city Chicago as club DJs and radio hosts fused electropop and disco into a pulsating, colorful style of dance music. “Chicago house music has always been about peace, love, and acceptance and has influenced music culture all over the globe,” Illinois native Brian Costin said after the name had been accepted by the team. Costin submitted the name in a “Moniker Madness” competition that gave fans a chance to vote on what the team’s name would be. The final round saw “Chicago House” win out against “Point Chicago” by a two-to-one margin.
Chicago House AC aims to have an impact that goes beyond soccer. The club’s mission statement, according to its website, is to “actively work to make Chicago a better place through philanthropy, service, winning trophies, and inspiring Chicagoans to stand at the forefront of their communities to create lasting change.”
The club will join nine returning sides and another new side, New Jersey Teamsterz FC, as part of NISA, a league that represents the third tier of American soccer. Chicago House AC already has a fan advisory council, which aims to hold the club to its principles, and a supporter’s group.
The club will also be partially owned by its fans, giving them a direct say in the club’s actions and operations. Chicago House AC’s website currently states that it is working toward developing a system that will provide shares of equity of the club to fans who decide to invest. Such a model is rare in the upper echelons of professional soccer, but it is more common among smaller sides: A few clubs in NISA, such as Chattanooga FC and Detroit City FC, are already set up in a similar way.
The club will play home games at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. With a capacity of 20,000, the arena will be one of the largest in the league, giving the club a chance to draw some of NISA’s largest crowds.
In the long term, the club would like to live up to the “Athletic Club” tag in its name by adding other sports teams to the Chicago House brand. “Chicago House AC plans to align ourselves with individual, recreational, competitive, esports and parasports teams,” team president Peter Wilt said in a statement.
Chicago is a city rich in soccer history—residents have been organizing matches since 1883. With Chicago House AC, the city gains its third professional club, and another chapter of Chicago’s sports history can begin to be written.