CHICAGO (CBS) — In the latest attempt to get the Bears to stay in Chicago, Landmark Development released a virtual tour of a revamped Soldier Field. But is it enough to keep the Bears from moving the stadium to the suburbs?
It’s unclear how much this would cost taxpayers because there was no financial plan behind this Hail Mary from the city.
Soldier Field has served as home to the Chicago Bears for decades.
Like Sunday’s Bears loss, a sports consultant says this last attempt to keep the Bears in Chicago will be a loss for the city.
“Whatever they did to the Rams’ stadium, we need to do something similar to that,” said Bears fan Milo Stanford.
Some Bears fans expressed excitement at the thought of the Bears potentially staying with more seating inside Soldier Field and a dome to cover the stadium.
“I think that’s an amazing idea,” said fan Theresa Cardona. “I think it would bring more people in.”
Landmark Development, a group advising the Lightfoot administration on how to fix Soldier Field and keep the Bears in Chicago, released a six minute video, narrated by Bill Kurtis, showing a fly-by of areas both in and around the stadium. The main highlight of the video is the stadium itself. The proposal centers on a brand-new glass dome that would shield the interior from the elements and potentially draw interest from a wide variety of partners.
The reimagined stadium would include an immersive fan experience, premium club lounges, and signature food halls while improving access to the stadium and an entertainment destination district located across the street from the field, according to Landmark Development.
“Soldier Field is uniquely situated to anchor a truly world-class sports, retail, culinary, and entertainment district,” said Bob Dunn, president of Landmark Development. “There is no comparable location to take advantage of all key trends of the future – at the heart of one of the world’s most exciting cities. Chicago deserves an extraordinary vision to take this iconic public asset into the next hundred years and beyond.”
They didn’t leave the idea of travel out of the equation.
The proposal also includes a new multi-modal transit hub that would be built across the street above Metra storage tracks and a rail yard where visitors will arrive and depart using CTA, Metra, and Amtrak rail lines. A new “CHI-Line” downtown circulator system would also be available for rideshares.
Other new amenities include expanding seating up to 70,000 and the veteran’s memorial, increasing the number of private suites, and more.
“We can throw more stuff in there. Not only Bears games, but we can have more stuff in there. So it would bring more revenue to the city, too,” said Cardona.
Sportscorp Limited President Marc Ganis said he’s worked on stadium project deals with more than half of all teams in the league. He said this is a Hail Mary pass for the city of Chicago.
“The time to really have worked on this is not now, but it was a year, or two or three years ago to try and keep the team. And now really, it’s basically too late,” he said.
In 2021, the Bears signed a $197 million purchase agreement with Churchill Downs forof the former Arlington Park racecourse. The contract for the site, however, remains in negotiations.
Ganis said the city’s latest attempt won’t entice the team.
“If you’re going to present a deal and want it to be taken seriously, it needs to have funding behind it, as well as a design and location and how traffic will be handled, all of those things,” he said.
Ganis said if the Bears were to stay, it would take some time to revamp it. The Bears would have to play at another stadium or they would have stop construction during the football season.