CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears kicked off their pre-season at Soldier Field Saturday and it’s the first time Bears fans were back after the Mayor announced potential plans in an effort to keep the team in Chicago.
After being down 14-0 heading into halftime, the Bears scored 19 unanswered points in the second half—led by backup quarterback Trevor Siemian’s 2 TD passes in the third quarter—to beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 19-14, to secure a victory in their first preseason game of the year.
With a new coaching staff in place and star linebacker Roquan Smith’s tenure with the Bears up in the air, curiosity about the team drove fans toward Soldier Field for the team’s first pre-season game—But like Smith’s future with the Bears, the future of the stadium remains up in the air too.
Standing since 1971, Soldier Field is the oldest stadium in the NFL…and also the smallest, with a capacity of only 61,500 fans for Bears games.
“I love it, The stadium does need updates, it’s a relic, people know it,” says David Drish of Villa Grove.
Last year, the Bears purchased Arlington Park for close to 200 million dollars, but a move to the suburbs doesn’t sit well with some.
“You’ve got to be excited, I hope they stay in the city, it would be awesome if they did. I understand why they would want to move to Arlington, but you want to keep them in the city, it’s easier to get here than Arlington,” says Miles Hoy.
In an effort to keep the team in its hometown last month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled three proposals to modify the iconic stadium. One would fully enclose the stadium by rebuilding both end zones with columns that can support a dome structure. Another would get the stadium dome ready. And a third possibility would modify the stadium making it better suited for soccer and able to accommodate major concerts and events.
This is where the Bears grew up, this is the Windy City. I feel like this is home for us, it should stay here, I think,” says Nate Jimenez.
The Mayor’s office estimated the costs could range between 900 million and 2.2 billion dollars.
The team’s lease at Soldier Field runs through 2033. The bears could break their lease at the storied stadium by paying the city 84 million dollars in 2026.