TWhat will it take to keep the Bears inside city limits? PIC: Landmark Development Services Company
The Chicago Bears have been toying with the idea of seeking greener pastures and leaving the City of Chicago, and the plans to keep them around are coming to fruition.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been ramping up pressure to try to keep the Bears in the city. Chicago's metropolitan area is one of the biggest in the nation, and the Bears would have plenty of options to relocate within the area. But it'd quite obviously be a large economic loss to the city; Solider Field has been the Bears' home since 1971, nearly 50 years after it was created to be a venue for football, baseball, and other sports around the Windy City.
The Bears are faced with three options, and here are the directions they can take their upcoming crossroads.
Option 1: Put a dome over the stadium
This is the most simple and easy-to-digest option of the three. All the Bears would really have to do is re-structure both end zones & seating around them, and they'd be able to stand up a dome in a matter of a few months. Obviously, using Soldier Field year round is attractive to many tenants, like the MLS' Chicago Fire, who you can bet will appreciate not having to play soccer in the snow. But is that an attractive proposal for a team that relies on its "frozen tundra" conditions when opposing teams come to town in the winter months? It's unclear.
Here's what a dome might look like at Soldier Field. As you can see, this is quite the spectacle. You can open the sides to bring in the warm air in the summer and fall, and close them when the arctic conditions come around.
Option 2: Have a "dome-ready stadium"
Solution 2 is a simple one, too, but it's confusing. Basically, it's do a basic level of renovation to allow Soldier Field to EVENTUALLY put a dome in. In terms of immediate benefits, it would increase capacity from 61k to 70k, but is that enough for one of the largest markets in the NFL when NYC has north of 82k and Lambeau Field has over 80k? I'm not sure.
It would also enable some of the other renovations to get done, such as the retail & entertainment facilities outside the field.
Option 3: Build a new stadium in Arlington Heights
Only a few miles outside the city, Arlington Heights could be a great new home for the Bears should they decide that none of this is enough.
Here's a mockup of what a stadium in Arlington Heights could look like.
There have been rumors circulating about the economic opportunity this would being the Bears. Taking a page out of SoFi Stadium - home of the Rams and Chargers - a hotel would gain tons of traction outside the field. Illinois recently legalized sports betting, and a DraftKings or FanDuel Sportsbook would be an excellent addition to the complex. Lots of Bears fans welcome this as the best opportunity, but will the new renderings be enough to stop it from going down?