As Chicago tries to fend off a Bears exit to the suburbs, Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled dramatic renovation proposals to Soldier Field on Monday that include a dome and a price tag of up to $2.2 billion
Per the Chicago Tribune, Lightfoot presented the plans at Solider Field to a group that included the city's top business leaders. The plans included detailed drawings of the proposed renovations and a range of price tags from $900 million to $2.2 billion. They did not include a plan on who would pay for the renovations.
The rendering of the dome proposal included interior, exterior and long-distance images of the stadium against the backdrop of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.
Here are the released renderings of a proposed "Dome" renovation of Soldier Field released by the Mayor's office today. There are three possible renovations for the stadium - two of which include the expansion of the stadium to 70,000. @WGNNews pic.twitter.com/oYiBPVNVyi
— Larry Hawley (@HawleySports) July 25, 2022
The three options Lightfoot proposed include building a dome over the stadium, outfitting it with columns to make it "dome ready" or converting into a year-round multipurpose stadium focused on soccer in the event the Bears leave town. Soldier Field also plays host the Chicago Fire of MLS. Included in the proposed renovations is an increase in seating capacity from an NFL-low 61,500 to 70,000 alongside more suites and space for vendors.
The proposed renovations would further remove the once-revered stadium from its original structure as built in 1924. Renovations in 2006 that included the addition of a glass-and-steel bowl jutting from the stadium's exterior left Soldier Field unrecognizable and led to its delisting as a national landmark. The stadium was in need of upgrades to keep up with NFL standards, but the lack of preservation left many in Chicago disappointed.
Further renovations to again upgrade Soldier Field likely wouldn't meet the same chagrin with the stadium having long lost its historic feel. Regardless, the Bears — who have a deal in place to explore a site in the suburb of Arlington Heights — appear disinterested in Lightfoot's proposal. They responded to Monday's plans by re-releasing a statement issued earlier in July after a panel appointed by Lightfoot initially floated the idea of Solider Field renovations.
“The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park," the statement reads. "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.
"We have informed the city of Chicago that we intend to honor our contractual commitments as we continue our due diligence and predevelopment activities on the Arlington Heights property.”