Design & Development

Bears president shares vision for lakefront stadium

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Chicago Bears president Kevin Warren has confirmed that the NFL team plans on building a new lakefront stadium as it shifts its focus away from Arlington Park.

Earlier this month, Warren issued a statement expressing the Bears’ intention to contribute over $2bn (£1.6bn/€1.8bn) to build a stadium in the City of Chicago.

The team had earmarked Arlington International Racecourse as the site for a new home and commenced demolition work on the site in May last year. A week later, the team revealed that Arlington International Racecourse was no longer its singular focus for a new stadium, and a new venue near the team’s current home, Soldier Field, now appears to be the preferred option.

Soldier Field, the Bears’ current home, has a capacity of 61,500 and is the smallest stadium in the NFL. The Bears’ current lease deal at the stadium is due to run until 2033, although the team could break the agreement for $84m as of 2026.

During NFL owners’ meetings earlier today (Tuesday), Warren said that the team’s plan will be to “put a shovel in the ground on the lakefront”. Soldier Field is located on the Near South Side of Chicago, near Lake Michigan.

Warren said the existing Soldier Field would be demolished to create more space on the Museum Campus, with the new stadium to be located south of the current venue.

“We have a unique opportunity to build a world-class, fixed-roof stadium,” Warren said, according to The Athletic, “To bid for the Super Bowl, to bid for the Final Four, to bid for college events, to bid for concert events, and then all the other mega events that come into town and the economic impact that this will have on our city because all the other infrastructure is in place.”

Warren joined the Bears in January 2023. He previously worked as chief operating officer of the Minnesota Vikings and played a key part in the team’s move to U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016.

In an interview with the Bears website, Warren said: “We are currently missing out on a lot. Chicago is the greatest city in our country, and I strongly believe it is the greatest city in the world.

“We have that combination of a beautiful lakefront, the beach, the water you can swim in, that is adjacent to an incredible downtown with the best architecture in a major city in the world. We are in a unique place. If we come together and stand up tall, we will be very pleased with what this brings to the city.”

He added: “I have been able to visit and watch games in all 30 venues. Our fans deserve a substantially upgraded fan experience. What we are planning is to build a stadium that fits the Chicago landscape and our historical fan base, but also provides amenities that they deserve and should have and be able to enjoy.

“Going there will be an experience. Now you go to the game and you watch the game and you go home. This will be an experience that people really enjoy.”