Supporters went into an uproar last night on social media outlets when Sector Latino posted the following message after a meeting with club leadership:
Today we attended a meeting with the head of the Chicago Fire and they decided to take our section away.
— Sector Latino (@SectorLatino12) February 5, 2014
The Fire have asked Sector Latino, the supporter's group located in Section 101 where they have been for the last three seasons to relocate to the Harlem end of Toyota Park next to the area occupied by Section 8 Chicago. Indications are that Sector Latino is not happy with a move to section 116 since the proximity to Section 8 would result in a loss of identity in terms of chants/cheers, tifo, and other aspects of the culture that they have established. The Fire on the other hand would like to move the supporter's groups closer together in order to maximize the value of seating available to all fans in areas other than those designated for supporter's groups.
Sector Latino's leadership feels as if they are being moved against their will into another section with little explanation. The tweet set off a firestorm of outrage and internet fan support aided by the fact that little context as to why or how the decision to facilitate the relocation was made or has been offered publicly from either side. I had a chance to speak with Mike Ernst this afternoon regarding the apparent lack of communication from the club and the resulting backlash over another perceived front office misstep. As the Fire's Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales, Service, Operations and Marketing Ernst has been in direct contact with Sector Latino leadership and the ISA regarding the move.
Ernst addressed some of the concerns that have been raised as a result of the relocation. Apparently this decision is not something that was sprung onto supporters within the last few weeks according to Ernst. "Sector Latino is not being eliminated or losing it's section," he explained. " Based on discussions beginning last October, Sector Latino agreed to move their section for the 2014 season."
The reluctance came after it became apparent that a move to section 116 would essentially combine all of the supporter's groups close together as they were at Toyota Park up to the end of the 2009 season. Sector Latino occupied space in the skyway during the 2010 season before a joint decision with the club moved them down to section 101. As a result of being relocated to what they see as an undesirable spot the group is standing by the decision to refuse the move at this point.
Ernst appeared willing to continue discussions with Sector Latino and the ISA but it seems that an alternate spot to section 116 isn't in the cards at this point. "The Club remains committed to helping them, as well as all other supporter groups, grow their existing base, including offering additional benefits," he said. "We will continue to work with the ISA and Sector Latino to ensure a smooth transition into their new section for 2014".
Whatever the case, the issue has yet to be resolved and Sector Latino plans to address their future during a group meeting on Saturday.