'Unfair and unfortunate': Chicago Red Stars pushed out of own stadium for September match by music festival

With punk festival Riot Fest's relocation to SeatGeek Stadium, the Red Stars are forced to make new arrangements for their home match on Sept. 21

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 13: Chicago Red Stars forward Jameese Joseph (8) and Angel City FC defender Sarah Gorden (11) battle for the ball during the second half of a NWSL match on April 13, 2024 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jameese Joseph (left) and the Chicago Red Stars will have to make other plans for their scheduled home game on Sept 21 due to a music festival taking priority in their home stadium. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Just days after smashing NWSL attendance records with 35,038 fans at Chicago's Wrigley Field, the Chicago Red Stars found out they're being kicked out of their home stadium.

With Wednesday's announcement of music festival Riot Fest's relocation to SeatGeek Stadium in September, the Red Stars are forced to find a new location for their home match vs. the San Diego Wave on Sept. 21.

The Red Stars released a statement Wednesday on behalf of president Karen Leetzow, who slammed the unexpected relocation as inequitable.

"It is unfair and unfortunate to have our club put in this situation, shining a light on the vast discrepancies in the treatment of women's professional sports vs. men's professional sports," Leetzow wrote.

Leetzow added in the statement that the team is working to find an alternative for the match that will still ensure "a first-rate experience" for fans and players.

Riot Fest, which runs from September 20-22, is a punk festivals whose lineup features the likes of Fall Out Boy, Sublime, Beck and St. Vincent. The festival does not appear to be using the stadium itself, but the area around it.

The village of Bridgeview, which owns the stadium, released a statement Thursday that claims the Red Stars were informed of a possible conflict in April 2024 but failed to communicate despite a written notice from the Village. "The Village's decision to schedule Riot Fest has nothing to do with gender," the statement added.

It's the latest in a series of issues with NWSL teams seemingly not receiving stadium priority, something that is standard for most men's teams.

Earlier this year, Angel City FC unexpectedly rescheduled its home opener at BMO Stadium by a day, due to an "unforeseen scheduling conflict." Although Angel City did not clarify the source of the conflict, the issue was reportedly a rival event at Exposition Park, which BMO Stadium shares with several museums.

Last October, it was announced that San Diego FC, an MLS expansion team arriving in 2025, would receive priority over San Diego Wave FC when it comes to scheduling.

San Diego State University Athletic Director John Wicker said that it was simply a matter of San Diego FC talking to them first, per the San Diego Union-Tribune. SDSU owns Snapdragon Stadium, and the Wave share it with the SDSU football team.

When asked about the issue during a media availability in October, Wave head coach Casey Stoney did not seem to be happy about getting second pick.

"All I can say is it frustrates me again that we're the established team in the market and a men's team comes in and gets first pick on the schedule," Stoney said. "Same stuff. I’ve been dealing with it for 41 years. I’ve been in this game a long time. So, shame that it continues to happen."

The Red Stars currently share SeatGeek Stadium with Chicago Fire II, the Chicago Fire's MLS Next Pro team. The Fire's first team previously played in SeatGeek before switching to play at the Chicago Bears' Soldier Field in 2019.

It is unclear at this time what the Red Stars will do to adjust to the sudden switch. A return to Wrigley Field is unlikely though: The Chicago Cubs have a home game that night vs. the Washington Nationals.