CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot appears to be doing everything she can to keep the Bears from moving to the suburbs.
According to a Crain’s Chicago Business report, a mayoral committee is set to recommend looking into the feasibility of building a dome on top of Soldier Field.
An early draft of the proposal obtained by Crain’s estimates costs in the ballpark of $400 million to $1.5 billion, which would likely be subsidized by taxpayers.
“We want the Chicago Bears to stay in the city of Chicago and we’re going to do everything we can to get them here,” said Lightfoot. ” … We’re going to make an extraordinarily compelling economic case that makes no sense for them to do anything else but stay in the city of Chicago.”
Other revenue-generating ideas mentioned in the report include moving Northerly Island’s concert venue to the property and constructing year-round restaurants and a hotel on campus.
The mayor hinted major renovations could be on the table back in February.
“We’ve seen a couple of proposals that are very, very interesting that really kind of re-envision Soldier Field and re-envision that area around Soldier Filed, keeping in mind the restrictions on use of park land,” Lightfoot said during an interview on 670 The Score’s “Mully and Haugh” show. “But we I think we can do this in a way that will be very economically enticing to the Bears.”
The Bears, who signed a purchase agreement last year to potentially explore building a stadium at Arlington Park, have a lease at Soldier Field through 2033.
“When it comes to Soldier Field, it’s not secret, I’ve said, we need to significantly enhance the fan experience. It takes too long to get there. It’s too hard,” added Lightfoot. “And if you’re on the west side of the stadium or in one of the end zones, frankly it’s a crappy fan experience.”
This is not the first time a dome has been on the table for the Bears, as WGN’s Mike Lowe asked an architect about the possibility back in 2019.
“You can always add a building to another building if you have the right amount of money,” said Dirk Lohan of Lohan Architecture. “Technically speaking, we can certainly do something like that. It would be extremely expensive because the support columns have to be outside.”
With a stadium capacity of 61,500 fans, Soldier Field is currently the smallest stadium in the league.