On Thursday, the city of Chicago’s NFL team the Chicago Bears announced an informational community meeting to discuss the potential purchase and development of Arlington International Racecourse. If this move would be made official, it would be a big hit to the city of Chicago and it’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s initiative to keep the team in the city.
“An improved Soldier Field will deliver a world-class visitor experience,” said Mayor Lightfoot.
“Furthermore, any of these proposed renovations will allow Soldier Field to retain its role as an economic engine for Chicago for years to come, as these changes will allow us to keep bringing sports, music and other exciting events to our city.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled plans for Soldier Field that could cost up to $2.2 billion as part of her ongoing campaign to keep the Bears from skipping town for Arlington Heights or at least deflect blame if the venerable sports team leaves.
— Gregory Pratt (@royalpratt) July 25, 2022
As written in Lightfoot’s proposal, the improvements will include:
“Led by Landmark Development and its President, Bob Dunn, this team of stadium engineers, designers, and financial experts with deep NFL experience has not only developed options which maximize the existing footprint of Soldier Field but also debunked the previously-held assumption that Soldier Field cannot be domed.”
The options include:
Option 1: Fully enclose the stadium by rebuilding both end zones with columns that can support a dome structure.
Option 2: Rebuild both end zones with columns to make the stadium dome ready.
Option 3: Modify Soldier Field to be a multi-purpose stadium better suited for soccer while improving its flexibility to accommodate major concerts and a range of events.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a proposal to build a dome on top of Soldier Field, and expand its capacity from 61,500, the smallest in the National Football League, to 70,000.
The prior renovation of Soldier Field cost some $690 million, of which taxpayers were on the hook for $432 million, plus hundreds of millions in interest, which they’re still paying through 2032.
The Chicago Bears released a statement regarding its dismissal of the city’s proposals saying, “The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park. As part of our mutual agreement with the seller of that property, we are not pursuing alternative stadium deals or sites, including renovations to Soldier Field, while we are under contract”.