Bridgeview Stadium is an investment in our future

Bridgeview Stadium is an investment in our future

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Bridgeview Stadium is an investment in our future

Toyota Park changes its name to SeatGeek Stadium, remaining one of the Southwest Side and suburbs most valuable economic assets next to Midway Airport in driving up home, jobs and economic wellbeing in the Southwest Region

By Ray Hanania

For many years, the Southwest Side and suburbs of Chicago were ignored by major government and worse by the downtown Chicago media.

When something would happen in our region, the media would describe it as taking place on Chicago’s “South Side.”

No, we’re not the “South Side.” We are “Southwest.” Southwest Side, Southwest suburbs, or better yet, “Southwest Region.”

The Bridgeview Stadium, Toyota Park, hosts many community regional, sports and entertainment events.

The Bridgeview Stadium, Toyota Park, hosts many community regional, sports and entertainment events.

When services were expanded by the county or the state, those services mostly focused on other areas of Chicagoland while the Southwest Region only got scraps.

About the only thing we had of any importance for a long time was Midway Airport, and it was a struggle that many of our local leaders had to fight for to expand and support. Today, Midway Airport is a convenient and efficient airport that serves as an economic engine for the Southwest Region’s employment and business growth.

But it’s not the only one. The Bridgeview stadium, currently named Toyota Park and soon to be renamed SeatGeek Stadium, is another major economic engine that benefits our region. Residents of Bridgeview can already see the benefits. A recent Crain’s Chicago Business story noted that Bridgeview home values showed the largest positive growth over the past two years (17.6 percent) over 12 other neighboring communities.

That’s a better return than you can get from your bank!

The stadium officially opened its doors in 2006 and the naming rights were bought by Toyota. Like many iconic structures in today’s world, naming rights are common place and Toyota Park has been a magnet for activity, entertainment and business development. It has seating for 20,000 people for sporting events and 28,000 for concerts. And it features 34 executive suites plus 6 stage suites.

It’s the home of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club (MLS), Chicago Red Stars (NWSL), and the Chicago Bliss (Legends Football League). But it also features festivals, concerts and carnivals, too.

This week, it was announced that Toyota Park will get a new name and the change will take place in time for the 2019 event season. The naming rights were purchased by SeatGeek, an online ticketing service that has mastered the expansive and influential mobile trend in purchasing tickets.

The Stadium (soon to be SeatGeek Stadium) is important for many reasons.

First, it is owned by the taxpayers of Bridgeview. It was ambitious of the village to build it and own it, and it is much like owning a home. It has a mortgage and it has upkeep needs. But like all homes, eventually that mortgage gets paid-off and the “home” – in this case stadium” gives homeowners (Bridgeview taxpayers) a huge capital investment that has enormous longterm value. It is a value that increases over time and with inflation.

My parents taught me that one of my first goals after getting a good education was to buy a home because that home would be my biggest investment and savings for the future. When I bought my home 35 years ago, I was afraid of the mortgage and the monthly payments. But the truth is time flies when you’re having fun. The 30-year mortgage flew by and the initial payments that first year which seemed “enormous” and sometimes frightening suddenly looked small as the mortgage approached its pay-off.

Today, my home is my biggest paid investment and it has allowed me to expand and do more.

It was the smartest thing I did economically in my life, even if those first few years made me a little concerned each month when I had to write that mortgage check on the 1st of the month.

The future SeatGeek Stadium is also important for other reasons. While residents and taxpayers can watch as their mortgage slowly vanishes into a huge financial investment, it also is a reminder in a very loud way that the Southwest Side is important.

We’re not just an area of Chicagoland that can be easily pushed aside. We have Midway Airport, we have a great sports and entertainment stadium, and we have pride.

That stadium puts the Southwest Side and suburbs on the map and people can’t ignore us.

The only thing that can hurt us is if we start believing the propaganda from the mainstream media that we don’t matter. We do matter.

Over the years, Bridgeview’s stadium has showcased great entertainment and today is home to the Chicago Fire soccer team.

Just like the Cubs, we waited many years for them to win the World Series and they did. But you can’t win the World Series if you don’t have a team competing. The Chicago Fire is our Soccer team and I cheer them as enthusiastically as I cheer all of our sports franchises. They have their ups and downs, but that’s what makes it exciting.

If you have ever been to a Fire game, you know what I am talking about.

Finally, the future SeatGeek Stadium is just another part of the growth of the Southwest Region and of Bridgeview. It is the foundation for the development that is springing up all around us.

Years ago, they promised us that they would build the Crosstown Expressway. It was supposed to create a “path” for economic benefit to our area. But that never happened.

The stadium, however, along with the revitalization of Midway Airport, has created a new energy. We are seeing new businesses and economic growth. Soon there will be a new hotel near the stadium. Harlem Avenue has been widened and improved and it’s more and more active. A number of new businesses have popped up, all pouring sales tax revenues into Bridgeview that off-sets the burden on Bridgeview homeowners.

I love being a Southwest Sider and Suburbanite. I love it even more as I see our region grow.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and author of the ethnic strategy book “Yalla! Fight Back”. Email me at his personal website www.Hanania.com or at rghanania@gmail.com.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania