Mayor Lightfoot Announces Three Options for Proposed Renovations to Soldier Field
Proposed renovations include a range of options to revitalize an iconic – but underutilized Chicago asset
CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today announced proposals for renovations of Soldier Field, a crown jewel of both Chicago and our celebrated lakefront Museum Campus. These proposals stem from considerations and recommendations made by the Mayor’s Museum Campus Working Group.
“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.”
Earlier this month, the Museum Campus Working Group published its report, Where Worlds Connect, detailing key analysis and recommendations to enhance the Museum Campus. The Working Group was chaired by Richard Price, Executive Chairman of Mesirow.
“I am excited to share these proposals for Soldier Field,” said Richard S. Price, Executive Chairman of Mesirow. “Any of these options has enormous potential to spur economic growth for Chicago and contribute to making the Museum Campus a global, year-round destination.”
One of the subareas of the Working Group was Athletic Facilities, led by Martin Cabrera, CEO of Cabrera Capital, which included focusing on the vision for Soldier Field. Over several months, the Athletic Facilities subgroup met with experts to understand the current market, national and international competition from other event venues, and what Soldier Field needs to become a best-in-class visitor experience.
“This expert team has done an impressive job bringing these three options to life,” said Martin Cabrera, CEO of Cabrera Capital. “Each of the proposals would create not only an exceptional experience for fans and concertgoers but would also enhance the public amenities for the entire Museum Campus.”
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 endzones with columns that can support a dome structure.
- Option 2: Rebuild both endzones 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.
Significantly, options 1 and 2 make Soldier Field a top tier NFL stadium with tremendous opportunity for the Bears to fulfill their vision. All options include major programmatic changes and concourse space improvements and, most importantly, preserve historical components of Soldier Field including the colonnades. While the cost of each option must be refined based on a finalized scope, it is anticipated they will range from $900M to $2.2B - significantly less costly than building a new stadium. The cost benefit to the Bears of improving Soldier Field versus developing a new stadium on an alternate site is anticipated to be at least $1B to 1.5B or more. Additional measures to provide new amenities include:
- Expand seating from 61,500 seats up to 70,000 total seats including additional fan activation areas.
- 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.
“These proposed renovations would vastly improve the visitor experience for hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans and tourists alike,” said Jack Lavin, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and member of the Museum Campus Working Group. “Adding new amenities to Soldier Field for private events and public use will support the Museum Campus and the entire city of Chicago, and drive vital revenue and job growth for our city’s small and mid-size business community.”
Soldier Field remains an incredible asset for City residents and visitors. Each year, Soldier Field hosts football games, soccer matches, major concerts, international sporting events, and dozens of other events. Any of the renovations proposed will enhance Soldier Field’s ability to generate hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity for Chicago and be a world-class destination for years to come.