Chicago officials set to back Soldier Field dome

Chicago’s Mayor is reported to be ready to back a dome for Soldier Field despite the likely departure of tenants, the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

Chicago Business reports that a commission established by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whose purview is strategic investments, will formally propose Soldier Field improvements. This would include rebuilding parts of the nearly 100-year-old stadium and potentially selling or granting naming rights to the venue.

The dome would cost between $400m and $1.5bn – with the higher cost not far off the $1.9bn spent on the construction of the Las Vegas Raiders’ enclosed Allegiant Stadium.

The dome “almost certainly” will require some sort of taxpayer subsidy, according to the draft report from Lightfoot’s Lakefront Museum Campus Working Group.

The Bears, who have played at Soldier Field since 1971, have entered into a purchase agreement for land in Arlington Heights, but the deal is not expected to close until next year.

Chicago officials have previously looked at the feasibility of adding a roof to Soldier Field, but concerns such as cost have meant the project has never progressed.

Sources in Chicago suggest that the Bears’ purchase of the land at the Arlington International Racecourse may be a powerplay in pressuring city officials to improve Soldier Field. There are also suggestions that the proposal to build a dome may be no more than a tactic by Lightfoot and her administration to placate fans horrified by the thought of the Bears leaving the city.

TheStadiumBusiness reported in March that Manica Architecture is said to be working with the Bears as it explores the possibility of building a new stadium on the site of Arlington International Racecourse.

A VenuesNow report claimed at the time that Manica has been selected by the Bears to help with initial plans for the proposed stadium. Real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle and the CAA Icon agency are also said to be working with the Bears on the plans.

Manica refused to comment when contacted by TheStadiumBusiness.com.

JLL has previously worked with the Bears on a renovation project for Soldier Field, while CAA Icon was involved in the multi-year redevelopment of Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball team.

The Bears’ plans for a new stadium at Arlington International Racecourse are currently at the conceptual design stage. VenuesNow’s report added that Legends and CSL International are carrying out a study relating to the marketing of any potential new stadium.