— Mariana Rodriguez (@Mrod_riguez) April 16, 2016
The sun was shinning with no cloud in sight and the wind blew moderately but just enough to briefly cool the skin. The weather was perfect for a Chicago Fire game.
Approximately 13 miles from the Chicago Loop is Bridgeview, a village of Cook County and home to the Chicago Fire soccer team stadium. Driving into the stadium’s parking lot, huge red letters spell out Toyota Park: Chicago Fire Vs. Montreal.
Lines of vehicles were being directed into parking spots. Small clusters of families and friends set up camp for their tailgating festivities. Loud music, laughing and the smell of food engulfed the parking lot, as families and friends played bean bag toss and soccer.
Loud fireworks announced to the crowd that the game was about to begin as tailgaters began shutting down their food operations and migrate inside the stadium.
Chicago native Josh Delvalle, 25, brought some of his friends from Woodstock Illinois to hang out at the game. “This is my first game this year,” he said. “I come back for the love of the game I use to play in College.”
During a penalty shot, an unruly fan ran onto the field during the April 16 game to catch a selfie with the players. Security immediately chased him off the field, handcuffed and took him away.
A little before halftime, Chicago Fire scored against Montreal. Sarah Stanley from Chicago was there attending her first ever Fire game. “I am here to support a friend,” she said. “He is a teacher at Proviso West and we are here to watch the Proviso West girl’s soccer game after.”
While waiting in the concessions line, Dan Nestmann, a parts manager and season ticket holder, remarked, “Section eight is a lot of fun. The standing, singing–everybody gets in the game.”
At exactly 90 minutes into the game with seconds left, Montreal scored as the crowd went wild in disappointment. The crowd began to dissipate and an eerie silence blanketed the stadium. The fans lined up for the restrooms while the parking lot quickly emptied.
“Chicago fire had no chance against Montreal,” said Emmanuel Cabrera, 27. “They played very well but I am not surprised they lost at the end.”
All that is left are the fans who continued tailgating despite their home team losing. As night falls and the air chills, the parking lot silences and the stadium employees emerged from the inside of the stands to clean up the food wrappings and scraps of garbage left behind by disappointed fans.