Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot made three proposals to renovate Soldier Field to keep the Bears at the historic stadium on Monday.
“An improved Soldier Field will deliver a world-class visitor experience,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “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.”
The most ambitious project would turn Soldier Field from an open-air to a domed stadium. The options — which run from $900 million to $2.2 billion — made public include:
- Fully enclosing the stadium with result end zone columns to support the roof.
- Rebuilding the end zone columns so Soldier Field could be upgraded to a dome at a later time.
- Creating a multi-purpose stadium that is “better suited for soccer” and other events like concerts.
The Museum Campus Working Group, an entity led by Lightfoot, made the recommendations aimed to keep the Bears from moving to the Chicago suburb of Arlington. The team purchased the 326-acre Arlington International Racecourse last year.
The proposals include increasing the seating capacity of Soldier Field from 61,500 seats up to 70,000, bumping up the suites from 133 to 140, adding six major club/experiential areas, and quadrupling the food and beverage square footage.
But the Bears aren’t biting. Yet.
The team pointed reporters to a statement issued on July 7 that said the Bears “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,” the statement continued.
The Bears’ lease at Soldier Field expires in 2033, although there’s an $84 million buyout that can be exercised if they decide to break the lease as early as 2026.