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Developer Unveils Video of a Domed and Renovated Soldier Field With Adjacent Outdoor Concert Venue - In a 'Hail Mary' Play to Keep the Bears in Chicago

Developer Unveils Video of a Domed and Renovated Soldier Field With Adjacent Outdoor Concert Venue – In a ‘Hail Mary’ Play to Keep the Bears in Chicago

Artist Rendering of One Central on the left and Soldier Field on the right. (Image: Landmark)
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CHICAGO (CelebrityAccess) – Landmark Development unveiled a video tour Sunday (January 8) of a domed, renovated, and “reimagined” Soldier Field, with expanded seating, club lounges, food halls, and an adjacent outdoor concert venue. In addition, the stadium is shown topped by a dome to attract fans who don’t enjoy the cold and wind blowing off Lake Michigan to accommodate year-round events.

The video targets the city’s beloved Chicago Bears (“Da Bears”), who are leaving Soldier Field for a new stadium in Arlington Heights. Bob Dunn, President of Landmark Development, said to the Boston Herald, “This is a proposal that we think sets a compelling case for a team like the Bears to want to stay at Soldier Field.”

The video is meant to gain traction for the proposed $2.2 billion renovation of Soldier Field as an alternative to building the new one in the suburbs located northwest of the city. Also on the line is a proposed $3.8 billion mixed-used entertainment and transit development Landmark wants to build above a 32-acre rail yard near the stadium called One Central.

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Arlington International Racecourse

The “Monsters of the Midway” entered into a deal with Churchill Downs in 2021 for $197 million to buy the Arlington International Racecourse – with plans to develop the 326 acres into an entertainment hub anchored by a brand-new domed stadium. The team has said the project would not be funded with taxpayer money, but they will look for public assistance to develop the site – to the tune of $5 billion. The deal, however, has yet to close.

The Bears started in the NFL in Decatur (Decatur Staleys) but moved to Chicago in the early 1920s, playing at the Cubs’ home – Wrigley Field. In 1971, they moved to Soldier Field. The Boston Herald reports they pay the Chicago Park District $6.48 million per year under the current lease, which runs through 2033. The team has the right to exit early with a penalty.

Soldier Field underwent a $432 million renovation in 2003, which fans and Chicagoans have likened to a flying saucer crash landing into the Colosseum-like architecture of the original stadium. That renovation stripped the stadium of its national historic landmark title, with a significant portion funded by permanent seat licenses (PSL). Unfortunately, there’s yet to be any information on what happens to the 26,000 PSL holders if the team re-locates to the ‘burbs.

Landmark, based in Wisconsin, is responsible for building Ford Field (Detroit) and MetLife Stadium (New Jersey) and completed the renovation of Lambeau Field, the home of the Bears’ biggest rival, the Green Bay Packers. In July, Dunn joined forces with Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot and several Chicago business executives to present the design for the domed renovation of Soldier Field. The design proposal includes increasing the capacity from 61,500 to 70,000, increasing private suites from 133 to 140, adding six clubs, experiential areas, and quadrupling food and beverage space. The city, of course, wants to keep the team right where they are.

Here's What A Soldier Field Dome Could Look Like Under Mayor Lightfoot's Latest Proposal To Keep Bears In Chicago
Artist Rendering of a domed and renovated Soldier Field (Image: Landmark)

Dunn declined to give a cost projection to the Herald but said the disclosed $2.2 billion renovation estimate remains in the ballpark. Utilizing over 50% of the infrastructure already in place, the renovation saves up to $1.5 billion over building a comparable stadium from scratch.

Marc Ganis, a Chicago-based sports marketing consultant, said he likened the Landmark proposal to a last-minute “hail mary” play to keep the team in the city. However, he told the Herald a more modest redevelopment of Soldier Field could turn the stadium into a significant asset for the city along the lakefront and Museum Campus, used for soccer, concerts and public events.

Dunn said if his proposed project fails to keep the Bears in the city, Plan B would be a downsized renovation incorporating many of the same core elements.

“We do have a vision for an alternative plan if the Bears are not part of the future of Soldier Field,” Dunn said. “We think a compelling case can be made about the stadium’s future, even if the team were to leave.”

Dunn is also interested in keeping the Bears in the city with his proposed One Central development, complete with an entertainment district, live-music venue, more than 9,000 residential buildings, skyscrapers as tall as 89 stories and a transit hub just west of the stadium. Dunn said that One Central, which already lost out as a location for a proposed Chicago casino, “remains viable, whether the Bears play at Soldier Field or not.

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