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Chicago unveils three proposals to update Soldier Field originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The city of Chicago proposed three different ways Soldier Field could be renovated depending on who will take over as the mainstay of the stadium.
The options are tentative on who will become the field's main anchor. Whether it be the Bears, the Chicago Fire, or someone else, the city is prepared to continue with renovations to the stadium and the museum campus regardless of what happens in the future.
Here are the three options the stadium could be renovated:
Fully enclose the stadium by rebuilding both endzones with columns that can support a dome structure.
Rebuild both endzones with columns to make the stadium dome ready.
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.
The goal of the city is to make a compelling case for the Bears to return to Soldier Field. The team and the city have a lease that goes through 2033. Any break in the lease before 2026 will cost $84 million.
Their proposed plan, tailored mainly towards the Bears, includes:
Expanding the seating capacity to 70,000 from 61,000
Increase the number of traditional suites from 133 to 140
Add six new major club and experiential areas, none of which exist in Soldier Field as it stands today.
Quadruple the food and beverage square footage from 50,000 sq ft to 200,000 sq ft.
Add secondary club and activation areas to as many as 20.
Dramatically expand the opportunity for major sponsorships and naming rights.
Create more flexible event space and multi-purpose venues including up to 4 venues with capacity ranging from 5,000 to 60,000 or more.
The name of the game for the city is cost saving. A new stadium in Arlington Heights would cost a lot. In Los Angeles, the Rams' new stadium (SoFi Stadium) cost them $5 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, the Raiders new stadium (Allegiant Stadium) in Las Vegas cost $2 billion.
The city estimates the cost of the dome and the renovations to the stadium will cost anywhere up to $2.2 billion. They have no specific plan as to who will pay for it, yet they would like for it to become a taxpayer issue.
Mayor Lightfoot did not specify how much they would attempt to ask the Bears to pay for if they decided to stay.
Depending on who the main anchor becomes in the new renovations, the cost will vary based on the three options presented. For example, if the Chicago Fire become the singular anchor, the stadium would likely renovate into a soccer-centric stadium.
Mayor Lightfoot was adamant that Soldier Field is an "incredible asset," by saying the area surrounding the field is "untapped real estate."
The mayor made it clear the city is not creating a deadline for the Bears and will give the team time to inhale the plan before congregating about a final decision.
"What's also important Soldier Field remains a highly desired venue by many other sports activities, music and more," Lightfoot said. "It's important to note that each of these scenarios will allow us to continue benefitting from Soldier Field regardless of whether or not the Bears choose to stay or go - and of course we hope that they choose to stay. But should Bears choose to stay in our city, Soldier Field will be a top 10 tier stadium with a number of new features. But should they choose to leave, Soldier Field will continue to be a premier multipurpose venue that is able to host an array of important and exciting events."
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