Enclosing Soldier Field and promoting its naming rights proposed to maintain Bears in Chicago

Mayor Lori Lightfoot ought to think about renaming Soldier Field to lift cash and “explore the feasibility” of enclosing the stadium with a dome or roof, an advisory panel she appointed to review Chicago’s museum campus beneficial.

The panel’s work marks Lightfoot’s try to maintain the Chicago Bears, who’re exploring a potential transfer to Arlington Heights, deflect blame if the venerable sports activities crew leaves, and determine potential methods to enhance a stretch of land that additionally consists of the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and the McCormick Place lakefront constructing.

Lightfoot’s panel recommends reworking Solidarity Drive right into a year-round plaza, creating academic applications for youths and including large-scale artwork to rejuvenate the campus. For the museum campus, it recommends enhancing CTA service and including a trolley and enhancing site visitors across the space. Many of the report’s concepts are more likely to run into monetary or political challenges as officers await the Bears to decide and type out their subsequent steps.

“Our beloved Museum Campus is an essential part of this city and requires special attention and care,” Lightfoot stated in a press release. “The Museum Campus working group has provided us with a useful framework to guide that work, as well as to enhance the (campus) overall.”

Although Lightfoot has made some extent of emphasizing the broader museum campus, it’s the report’s suggestions involving Soldier Field that can draw probably the most consideration.

“To better utilize Soldier Field year-round, the City should also explore the feasibility of enclosing the stadium. From May to December, Soldier Field is a lively, highly utilized venue. During this time, the stadium is estimated to host anywhere from 96,000-240,000 people each month. However, the arena’s usage is much lower from January to April when the weather limits use of the stadium’s outdoor areas,” the panel stated.

“During these colder months, it is estimated that stadium attendance ranges from 1,200 to 66,800 people per month. Although an enclosed venue is unlikely to attract many more major concerts due to limited touring windows among other reasons, it would negate inconsistent weather conditions and allow Chicago to host coveted one-off events such as the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four Championship.”

The report stops in need of recommending the roof, although, saying “further analysis is required to fully understand the specific costs, the potential direct and indirect economic impacts, and the full range of potential funding sources available to determine options that are respectful to Chicago taxpayers.”

It does word that the town ought to think about a sponsorship settlement with naming rights for Soldier Field, which was devoted to troopers within the Twenties. Sponsorship agreements at different stadiums, together with SoFi Stadium in California and MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, have introduced in $400 million every, the panel stated. Other arenas — just like the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans — present that you may maintain “Soldier Field” within the title and proceed respecting its legacy as a tribute to American troopers whereas additionally bringing in income, the panel stated.

The Bears have performed at Soldier Field since transferring from Wrigley Field in 1971. They performed the 2002 season at Champaign’s Memorial Stadium whereas Soldier Field underwent a $690 million renovation. The stadium, which is owned by the Chicago Park District, holds 61,500 followers, the smallest capability within the NFL. It may be troublesome to achieve and is outdated in contrast with newer soccer stadiums.

The Bears signed a purchase agreement for Arlington International Racecourse final fall, which received’t shut till later this yr on the earliest. Though it isn’t a performed deal, the Bears’ curiosity in Arlington Heights sparked a rigorous debate over whether or not Chicago ought to try to maintain the crew and at what value. One benefit for the Bears of transferring to Arlington Heights is they might have the ability to develop the 326-acre property across the stadium with purchasing, eating and leisure.

While she tries to find out if it’s potential to maintain the crew in Chicago, the mayor additionally wants to arrange for a post-Bears future on the lakefront so she will current a forward-looking plan to attempt to defray the lack of income and civic status in the event that they go away.

Other suggestions embrace a suggestion that the town and different companies “carefully evaluate” future choices for Lakeside Center, part of the McCormick Place middle that faces “lagging utilization and significant maintenance requirements.” But any try to modernize the ability is more likely to be expensive and the 51-page report doesn’t typically deal with funding.

The panel additionally recommends implementing a free or low-cost trolley, citing a program that ran in Chicago throughout the early 2000s however was discontinued in 2009 when its federal and company funding dried up. How an analogous program may keep away from the identical destiny is unclear, although the report stated it “should ultimately grow to be self-sustaining through revenue from campus specific sources.”

Another proposal is the creation of a pedestrian bridge connecting to Northerly Island.

“During the 1933-34 Century of Progress World’s Fair, which was held on both sides of Burnham Harbor, the island was connected to the mainland by three bridges: one at today’s Solidarity Drive, another at 16th Street, and one at the southern end of the peninsula,” the report stated. “In this spirit, the working group recommends that a new pedestrian bridge be created to connect Northerly Island either at the latitude of approximately 16th or 18th Street or at the southern end of the peninsula.”

Further research can be wanted, although, to suggest probably the most acceptable design and accommodate present boats within the harbor and their entry to Lake Michigan, posing logistical challenges.

Other proposals cope with transportation to the campus and Soldier Field, which generally is a actual problem. Proposals embrace enhancing CTA bus service and making different infrastructure modifications.

For subsequent steps, the duty drive recommends Lightfoot set up a “stakeholder coordinating body” to work with the Park District, campus museums, metropolis departments and others “to advance the execution of the recommendations outlined in this report.”


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