New video showcases proposed $2.2B Soldier Field stadium dome, entertainment district development

Still, the Chicago Bears are exploring a possible move to Arlington Heights.

ByEvelyn Holmes and Stephanie Wade, ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, January 9, 2023
New video showcases proposed Soldier Field dome, entertainment district development
Landmark Development released a Soldier Field renovation proposal video, showcasing a new dome. But, the Chicago Bears aren't convinced.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the Bears and their fans finish out a disappointing season, the City of Chicago is throwing up a hail mary in their efforts to keep the team in the city.

Grand plans of a dome and entertainment district is showcased in a new video proposal released on Sunday for renovation developments to Chicago's Soldier Field stadium.

The video by Landmark Development and the Reimagine Soldier Field Coalition comes as city officials continue trying to coax the Chicago Bears to remain at the stadium while the team explores the possibility of moving to Arlington Heights.

"Its good. I think that the city at least try to keep them here downtown Chicago," said Bears fan, Brendan Brosnan.

""Being someone who lives up north, it would definitely be easier to access if it was in Arlington Heights, where we won't have to walk 25 minutes to your car. But there is nothing like coming downtown for Bears games," said Doug Lindberg.

RELATED: Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces 3 Soldier Field renovation options

The six-minute long presentation shows a reimagined Soldier Field, complete with expanded seating, premium restaurants, and an adjacent concert venue, all topped by a spectacular dome, allowing year round use.

"Something dramatically different has to happen. The Bears have to do something," said Landmark Development President Robert Dunn. "The building is just deficient really by all the measurables we use in sports today. Transportation, fan experience, even the simple things like ingress egress."

As the lead developer for Lambeau field, Ford Field, US Bank Stadium and MetLife Stadium, Dunn believes they can change that.

"You have to solve all the deficiencies, and we've now done the work, the engineering, the transportation analysis, the financial modeling, and we believe that we believe there's a case that there is no building that matches it in the national football league and there's certainly no other site in Chicago," he said.

The dome would require rebuilding the end zones with columns engineered to support the structure, according to a Reimagine Soldier Field Coalition release.

In addition, a transit hub and features such as expanded seating and clubs would be added.

The group proposed that Landmark and a team of local and national private investment partners build the transit hub above Metra storage tracks and a rail yard across the street from the stadium.

WATCH | Chicago Bears fans react to new video of proposed Soldier Field renovations

Landmark Development released a Chicago Soldier Field renovation proposal video, showcasing a new dome. But, the Chicago Bears aren't convinced.

Seating could be increased from approximately 61,500 seats to up to 70,000 seats, including numerous fan activation areas and a youth play zone, according to the release. The number of private suites would be increased from 133 to 140, and six new clubs and experiential areas would be added.

The video also proposes quadrupling the field's food and beverage amenities from 50,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet.

"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."

Supporters hope the proposed $2.2 billion renovation could entice the Chicago Bears to not build a new stadium in the northwest suburbs.

Still, the Bears released a statement on Sunday, saying they aren't interested.

"The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park," the Bears said. "As part of our mutual agreement with the seller of that property, we are not pursuing alternative stadium deals or sites, including renovations to Soldier Field, while we are under contract."

The Bears first moved to Chicago from Decatur in 1921, and began playing at Soldier Field in 1971.

They currently pay nearly $6.5 million a year under their current Soldier Field lease.

RELATED: Soldier Field gets new Bermuda grass surface installed just in time for season opener

In 2003, the stadium saw a $690 million renovation, the majority funded by Illinois taxpayers.

Keeping the team put would also help possibly greenlight Landmark Development's proposed multi-billion dollar mixed use development in the area.

But if the Bears end up not staying at Soldier Field, there is a plan B. That plan includes a smaller scale renovation to the stadium, as well as developing land west of Soldier Field on the other side of Lake Shore Drive. Of course, none of this happens without state approval.

"It'd be cool if they stayed because it's Soldier Field, it's right on the lake. It's a classic," said Bears fan, Andrew Holt.

"I think it looks really good. I think it would be great for the area and honestly I can't imagine going out to Arlington Heights to watch bears games. My whole life it's soldier Field, soldier Field. So I think they should try to stay as much as possible. So whatever they can do to keep them here they should do that," added fellow fan, Oliver Tso.

"Obviously, it won't be right here, but Bears fans will travel to wherever they have to go," said Allison Michel.

ALSO SEE: Arlington Heights rejects petition to ban public money for Chicago Bears development