An annual high school football tripleheader at Chicago’s Soldier Field which allows six different high school squads to play at the famed home of the Chicago Bears is being moved, and the area prep sports community is not pleased about it.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the 2018 Chicago High School Kickoff Classic, which has been held at Soldier Field in all but one season (2014) since its inception, will be on the move again. While the event hoped to play its three games at Solider Field on Sunday, August 26, Bears officials reportedly rejected that date because it is sandwiched between two home preseason games for the team: against the Chiefs on Aug. 25 and against the Bills Aug. 30.
The Bears decision not to bend away from traditional Solider Field groundskeeping rules to accommodate the high school teams was seen as a crushing blow by some of the coaches who were preparing to play there.
“It’s disappointing we won’t get the opportunity for our kids to play at Soldier Field,” St. Laurence (Chicago) football coach Harold Blackmon told the Tribune. “I think (the Bears) are probably going to lose some fans in Burbank and Lisle.”
While the coaches and athletic directors understand the decision to protect the Solider Field surface at a certain level, there’s also an inescapable frustration at the notion of high school football being rejected just for Chicago’s elite facility to sit vacant; when the High School Kickoff Classic was moved in 2014, it shifted to accommodate a two-day concert stand by then-British boy band legends One Direction.
As in 2014, officials behind the tripleheader hope that Toyota Park, home of the MLS Chicago Fire, will host the six teams. While Toyota Park isn’t in the city itself (Bridgeview, Ill.), it’s the next best option: A professional facility which is actually better sized for a high school football crowd. The event should know by the end of the week whether it will host the event.