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With estimate up to $2.2 billion, city of Chicago releases plans to renovate Soldier Field

As the Chicago Bears plan for a possible move to the suburbs, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is making a pitch to convince the team to stay at Soldier Field.

On Monday, July 25, Lightfoot unveiled three options, including building a dome over the stadium to keep the Bears from moving to Arlington Heights.

A portion of the cost, projected to be between $1 to $2.2 billion, would be paid for by selling naming rights, but officials did not reveal details on how the money would be raised.

“The thing that will not vary, and the thing that we will not waiver, is our continued commitment to maximize the return on any investment of your tax dollars,” said Lightfoot during a news conference at Soldier Field.

In addition to a domed stadium, a second option would go without a dome but would still make the stadium a “top-tier” playing field for an NFL team, Lightfoot said. The final option involves converting Soldier Field for the Chicago Fire Soccer team and other events. That proposal involves elevating the field over 40 feet to create “an optimal bowl” for soccer.

As part of the renovations, the mayor’s plan also includes increasing seating capacity from 61,500 to 70,000 seats, slightly increasing the number of suites, and quadrupling the square footage devoted to food and beverage space.

“Plain and simple, Soldier Field is the home of the Chicago Bears, and of all the fans and residents who love the game of football,” said Rosa Escareno, General Superintendent of the Chicago Park District.

Last year, the Bears purchased Arlington Park for nearly $200 million.

“The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park. As part of our mutual agreement with the seller of the property, we are not pursuing alternative stadium deals or sites, including renovations at Soldier Field while under contract,” said a statement from the Bears released July 7 and reiterated Monday.

The team’s lease at Soldier Field runs through 2033, but the Bears could break that lease by paying the city $84 million in 2026.

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.


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