Chicago Mayor Unveils Billion Dollar Renovations to Soldier Field

by Patrick Norton

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot appears to be on the cusp of the fourth stage of grief: depression. With the Chicago Bears threatening to pull out of the city the franchise has called home for more than a century, Lightfoot continues an odd path of bargaining. However, it seems she might be bargaining with only herself at this point.

Lightfoot pinpoints what she perceives as the greatest threat to the Bears: the weather. And in architectural renderings, the mayor suggests adding a glass roof to the stadium last renovated in 2003. However, the idea doesn’t give the NFL’s charter franchise ownership of the stadium, nor does it address the comically low capacity number. Soldier Field allows for the lowest fan attendance in the league, capping at 61,500.

That doesn’t mean we can’t stare at the renderings in awe.

The idea certainly adds a modern flair to the ancient stadium. However, these somewhat necessary improvements come two decades too late. And it also comes with a $2 billion price tag. And Lightfoot seems convinced that regardless of the Bears’ looming location decision, the renovations would take place.

Lightfoot continued with the inflammatory uproar, claiming that if the Bears opted to move, the city could attract a new NFL resident. Chicago’s mayor also added that the city is currently negotiating with future tenants should the franchise choose to develop thirty minutes northwest in Arlington Heights.

The Bears entered a purchase agreement on the old property of Arlington Race Track – a popular Chicagoland horse racing and gambling spot – in 2021. The team could close on the land by the end of this year or in early 2023. It remains likely the team would prefer to develop its own property, adding a revenue source. The Chicago Park District owns and operates Soldier Field.

Soldier Field Renovations Last Thing on Management’s Mind

Veterans report to Chicago Bears training camp on Tuesday (July 26). However, Chicago’s best player on the defense and maybe the entire team won’t participate. Roquan Smith intends to “hold-in” while he awaits a new contract. The linebacker missed most of his rookie training camp over a contract dispute, too.

However, Smith has since solidified his standing as one of the league’s premiere players at his position. Chicago needs Roquan Smith. Losing No. 58 for any stretch means losing a leader, a signal-caller and a damn good player.

That said, the relationship doesn’t appear tarnished between player and front office. The team unveiled an alternate helmet on Sunday using Smith as the model. But if the Bears want to see the linebacker at Soldier Field for Week 1, they’ll have to write a large check.