Would a dome addition keep the Bears in the city of Chicago?
Soldier Field has not only served as the Chicago Bears home for over 50 years but also as an iconic feature of the Chicago landscape and an important aspect of the popular Museum Campus. Despite renovations to the original stadium, Soldier Field has maintained an open-air environment with natural grass since the Bears began playing there in 1971.
However, in an effort to prevent the Bears’ rumored move to Arlington Heights, which appears to be nearly a done deal, the city’s mayoral committee plans to recommend a stadium renovation, highlighted by the addition of a dome, that could cost over $400 million in taxpayer money.
A Chicago mayoral committee is set to recommend putting a dome on Soldier Field in an effort to keep the Bears from moving out of the area.
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) July 6, 2022
This effort to keep the franchise in the heart of the city may be too little too late, as the organization signed a purchase agreement in Arlington Heights and Churchill Downs Inc. in September of 2021. The Bears will likely submit their redevelopment plans for the park to Arlington Heights later this fall, with action coming early 2023 at the earliest.
Nonetheless, the move to Arlington Heights is far from a done deal, as many factors and negotiation pieces could fall out between either the team or the city. It is also not rare for sports teams to threaten leaving the city in order to force upgrades and renovations to the stadium. This negotiation tactic doesn’t always work for the team, however, famously including Jim Irsay’s failed negotiations with the city of Baltimore, forcing him to move the Colts to Indianapolis in 1984.
It’s unlikely that the Bears will have to move overnight due to the city of Chicago putting their foot down on a Soldier Field renovation, but nonetheless, a move to the suburbs may be inevitable, no matter what the city does to improve the stadium in the near future.
Would you rather the Bears stay in Chicago with a domed stadium or move to the suburbs but keep the open-air, natural grass environment? Either way, it appears that the game-day experience and tradition surrounding Bears home games will change greatly in the near future.