CHICAGO – Once again, Chicago’s Soldier Field, the city’s primary outdoor venue is at the center of people’s attention because of potential changes to improve it.

The latest came from Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday, as she looks to find a way to entice the Bears to stay at Soldier Field with three potential plans: One for a dome immediately, one for a dome in the future, or one as a primary soccer/entertainment venue.

See the Soldier Field “Dome” Proposal

This is being done as the Bears are finishing up the details on a purchase agreement on the Arlington Park property in Arlington Heights and exploring the potential of building a stadium there.

Here are the released renderings of a proposed “Dome” renovation of Soldier Field released by the Mayor’s office today. There are three possible renovations for the stadium – two of which include the expansion of the stadium to 70,000. @WGNNews

— Larry Hawley (@HawleySports) July 25, 2022

As another renovation is proposed, it is a good time to look back at the transformation the nearly 100-year old venue has undergone through the years.

6 Jun 1992: Crowd view of a game between Italy and the USA at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /AllsportFloyd McKissick, national director of the Congress of Racial Equality, wears a straw hat against the near 100-degree temperature in Soldier Field, Chicago, as he addressed a freedom rally estimated at more than 30,000, July 10, 1966. “What the Black people seek is the right to determine their future,” he declared. “What they want is political power, economic power and nationwide consumer power.” (AP Photo/Larry Stoddard)George “Papa Bear” Halas, owner of the Chicago Bears, oversees quarterback Bobby Douglas from his electric cart at Chicago’s Soldier Field, Oct. 21, 1971. The Bears, plagued by injuries to the team’s quarterbacks, face the Detroit Lions Sunday in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charles Knoblock)Aug 1992: General view of a Chicago Bears game at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport1993: View of a game between the USA and Germany at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Germany won the game 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport15 Sep 1996: Cornerback Corey Fuller of the Minnesota Vikings and wide receiver Curtis Conway of the Chicago Bears jump up for the ball during a game at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Vikings won the game 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /AllsportA WGN camera films the 35,000 people attending the freedom rally at Soldier Field held by MLK on July 10, 1966.The Rev. Martin Luther King addresses a crowd estimated at 70,000 at a civil rights rally in Chicago’s Soldier Field June 21, 1964. King told the rally that congressional approval of civil rights legislation heralds “the dawn of a new hope for the Negro.” (AP Photo/Charles E. Knoblock)17 JUN 1994: FANS AND FANFARE AT THE OPENING CEREMONY FOR THE 1994 WORLD CUP AT SOLDIER FIELD IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel/ALLSPORTCHICAGO – OCTOBER 1992: Aerial view of Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears circa October of 1992 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)A view inside Soldier Field before demolition began in 2002CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 09: The Minnesota Vikings kick off the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 9, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Chicago Bears 20-17. (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images)Lee Bey and Mike Lowe stand outside Soldier FieldSoldier Field, a municipal stadium in downtown Chicago Illinois.CHICAGO, IL – DECEMBER 12: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots lines up against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Patriots beat the Bears 36-7. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)Evangelist Billy Graham stands at podium in center of Chicago’s Soldier Field as believers sermon to crowd estimated at 116,000 that filled the huge stadium near downtown Chicago June 17, 1962. The outdoor rally was the climax of the 18 day Crusade Graham conducted in Chicago. He termed the crusade successful far beyond expectations. (AP Photo/Paul Cannon)This is a picture of Soldier Field from across Burnham HarborThis photo shows a view of the newly renovated Soldier Field, the home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, 29 September, 2003 on opening night of the new stadium against the Green Bay Packers. The stadium was renovated with a cost of 632 million USD, with a seating capacity of 61,500. The new stadium bowl sits inside the historic facade of the original Soldier Field, which was built in 1924 as a memorial to US soldiers. AFP PHOTO/Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)CHICAGO – OCTOBER 1992: Aerial view of Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears circa October of 1992 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)Chicago Fire FC fans cheer ahead of the team’s 2021 season home finale against Real Salt Lake at Soldier Field on October 23rd.1989: Quarterback Jim McMahon of the San Diego Chargers looks on during a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport

The stadium was dedicated as Municipal Grant Park Stadium on October 9, 1924 and was renamed Soldier Field on November 11, 1925 in memory of soldiers who died in World War I.

After its opening, it hosted everything from football games to boxing matches and even a NASCAR Cup race in 1956. Numerous concerts have been played at the stadium while also being a site for political and religious events over the last century.

The Chicago Cardinals of the NFL called the stadium home for the 1959 season before the Bears made their permanent move from Wrigley Field starting with the 1971 season. The stadium has served as home to a few others football teams in other leagues along with professional soccer, including the NASL’s Sting (1975-1976) and Chicago Fire FC (1998-2005, 2020-present).

Renovations were done to close in the north end zone and eventually add skyboxes following the Bears’ arrival, with capacity in this new configuration reaching a high of 66,994 in 1994.

Starting in January of 2002, the stadium underwent a major $632 million renovation which was completed in September of 2003 that reduced capacity to 61,500. That’s the way the stadium has looked to this day as the city once against debates a new plan to renovate the venue ahead of its 100-year anniversary in order to keep the Bears in the city limits.

Read More

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: