The Fire are trying to reintroduce themselves to Chicago by changing how they’re presented to the city.
Perhaps the biggest name in American soccer broadcasting will be part of the effort.
On Tuesday, the Fire announced that Arlo White, the lead play-by-play broadcaster for NBC’s coverage of the English Premier League, will be part of their broadcast team on WGN and ESPN+ this season. White will call Fire games during the Premier League offseason, and his first game will be sometime in mid-May. He will also work on NBC’s soccer broadcasts during the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
White will be joined in the broadcast booth by analyst Tony Meola, the United States’ starting goalie in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups who has enjoyed a long broadcast career after his playing days. When White is not available, former Phoenix Rising broadcaster Tyler Terens, 26, will handle play-by-play.
Terens and Meola will debut Saturday, when the Fire visit the New England Revolution. But in fairness to Terens and even a U.S. soccer luminary like Meola, it’s the addition of White that will raise eyebrows, and it represents an impressive coup.
Born in Leicester, England, White announced Seattle Sounders games before joining NBC and has become America’s voice of the Premier League since the 2013-14 season. He has called games in all of England’s most famous venues, and his voice is connected to Leicester City’s fairy-tale 2016 Premier League championship and the dominant runs by Manchester City and Liverpool.
He is also a longtime Chicago sports fan since attending a Cubs game in 1986 with his uncle. White has sung the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field, thrown a ceremonial first pitch and is known to tweet about Chicago’s sports teams.
This news isn’t exactly a surprise, and there have been some hints this was coming.
Last month, White posted a photo on his Instagram of him wearing a Fire T-shirt. Recently, he also changed his Instagram profile pic to one of him singing at Wrigley.
On Tuesday, it became official, adding gravitas to Fire broadcasts and another plus to their ledger of off-field moves.
“I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that my first visit to Chicago in 1986, as a wide-eyed 13-year-old visiting my uncle and auntie, had a profound impact on the course of my life,” White said in a news release. “It ignited a love of this city and of the United States. I’ve been obsessed with all things Chicago and Americana ever since. If you’d told that English teenager that 30-odd years later, he would have the opportunity to call football matches for the Fire’s return to Soldier Field? Well, I think he’d have cried tears of joy. I’ve been back to the city countless times since that first trip. I just love being here. It feels like my home away from home. This is an exciting year for Chicago Fire FC, and I am delighted to bring my experience to the Soldier Field booth.
“I’d also like to thank NBC Sports for allowing me to pursue this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the Chicago Fire in a city that I adore, during the Premier League offseason.”
The Fire had two vacancies in the booth after former play-by-play announcer Dan Kelly was not retained and Frank Klopas was added as an assistant to coach Raphael Wicky.