Landmark Development, which is working with the City of Chicago on a proposed revamp of Soldier Field, has released more details of its domed vision for the stadium as part of plans to keep the Chicago Bears at the venue, which is the oldest in the NFL.
In July last year, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced proposals for a major renovation of Soldier Field, with three options presented in collaboration with Landmark Development.
The first option proposed a fully enclosed stadium, while the second option centred on rebuilding both endzones with columns to make the stadium “dome-ready”. The third option would be to modify Soldier Field into a multi-purpose stadium better suited for football (soccer) while improving its flexibility to accommodate major concerts and a range of events.
The Bears are keen to develop a new stadium, and in September the team laid out plans for a domed venue and multi-purpose entertainment district at the proposed site of Arlington Heights. The team later maintained that its “singular focus” was on the new stadium, with no appetite to engage on a potential redevelopment of Soldier Field.
Soldier Field opened in 1924 and its 61,500-seat capacity for Bears games makes it the smallest in the league. The stadium underwent a $690m (£568m/€647m) renovation in 2002 and the Bears’ lease deal is due to run through 2033, but the team could break the agreement for $84m as of 2026.
Landmark Development president Bob Dunn yesterday (Sunday) released more details of the company’s plans for a revamped Soldier Field, with a dedicated website having been launched. The website features a fly-through video showcasing what a revamped stadium would look like.
The company’s vision is to transform the stadium into a year-round, world-class venue for sports, family entertainment and community events. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Dunn said that a revamp of Soldier Field would save the Bears at least $1bn over the cost of constructing a new stadium.
Dunn added: “Having built a number of NFL stadiums, having built other sports venues … having built Lambeau Field, which is consistently ranked as one of the top buildings in all of sports by fans, taking that building and then transforming it to become what it’s become, there is not an opportunity in the sports industry in the United States, I would argue, that matches the opportunity here.”
Soldier Field’s capacity would expand to the “high-60s”, Dunn said, with the plan to include a glass wall at the north end of the venue. The plans have not yet been discussed with the Bears.
In a statement reported by the Sun-Times, the Lightfoot administration said: “Mayor Lightfoot has been vocal about the need to reimagine the experience at Soldier Field. The city still believes that Soldier Field is the best home for the Chicago Bears and continues to … explore the future of the stadium.”