When international soccer superstar Lionel Messi came to play an exhibition game in Chicago last week, it didn't quite go how many expected.
In fact, Chicago Fire chief operating officer Atul Khosla said he's heard from people that the event left "a bad taste" in the mouths of some Chicago soccer fans.
Well, in hopes of cleansing the palates of Chicago soccer fans, the Fire are offering a 50-percent discount on tickets to those who have proof of purchase from the Messi & Friends event on July 6 at Soldier Field for the MLS club's game against D.C. United on July 20.
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What spurred such a promotion?
"First and foremost, it was fans reaching out and saying, 'We went to the game and didn't have a good time,'" Khosla said in a phone interview. "It left a bad taste in their mouth."
The Messi event was met with such poor reception due to the exhibition match's style of play — which led to a total of 15 goals — as well as the use of less-than-world-class talent and a second-half departure of the top-billed Messi.
Khosla heard of a young fan who celebrated his birthday at the game and left disappointed. The Fire are hoping to provide a much more successful answer to the Messi event and cater to the area's passionate soccer fans with a much different style of play and a high level of competition.
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"We think there's great soccer being played at Toyota Park," Khosla said, adding that the Fire offer a tremendous soccer experience for Chicago fans.
The Fire made headlines in the MLS recently by going on a nine-game unbeaten streak. That was snapped Sunday by Sporting Kansas City. The Fire next take on Vancouver Whitecaps FC this Sunday in British Columbia before heading home for the match with D.C. United.
The ticket promotion is only good at the Toyota Park box office. Fans with questions regarding the promotion can contact the Fire at 1-888-MLS-FIRE.