Chicago Exploring Putting Dome on Bears' Soldier Field; May Cost Between $400M-$1.5B

Adam WellsJuly 6, 2022

Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Chicago Bears have hosted outdoor games for 100 years, but the city of Chicago is reportedly exploring the possibility of turning Soldier Field into a domed stadium.

Per Greg Hinz of Crain's Chicago Business (h/t Sports Business Journal), a mayoral committee is "poised to recommend that the city 'explore the feasibility' of putting a dome atop Soldier Field in an effort to make the facility more attractive to potential users."

According to Hinz, the dome would require "some sort of taxpayer subsidy" with an estimated total cost between $400 million and $1.5 billion.

The Bears, meanwhile, have been working on getting a new stadium built in Arlington Heights.

In September, Bears ownership spent $197.2 million on a purchase agreement for Arlington International Racecourse with the sale expected to close in late 2022 or early 2023.

"Our goal is to chart a path forward that allows our team to thrive on the field, Chicagoland to prosper from this endeavor and the Bears organization to be ensured a strong future," Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips said in a statement. "We will never stop working toward delivering Bears fans the very best experience. We will continue to provide updates on our progress at the appropriate time."

All of this looks to be negotiating tactics between the Bears and the city of Chicago over financing, either for a new stadium or to upgrade Soldier Field.

After the team's purchase agreement in Arlington Heights was announced, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said taxpayer money won't be used to build a new stadium.

"I can just tell you that I have not had any discussions, haven't been approached by anybody, neither the city nor the Bears themselves, so it's not something we're currently looking at. Like I said, we're focused on our own fiscal situation," Pritzker said.

Building a dome on Soldier Field would open up opportunities to host sporting events that must be played indoors during the winter months, but it doesn't solve the issue that it has the smallest stadium capacity in the NFL (61,500).

Soldier Field opened in 1924 and is the league's oldest stadium. It underwent significant renovations in 2002 that cost $632 million, and taxpayers covered $432 million of that amount.


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