Soldier Field reimagined: Developer releases video of proposed remodel

Soldier Field has been the home of the Chicago Bears for decades and a landmark since the late 80s — now a developer wants to transition the space into the modern era. 

Landmark Development released a video on Sunday providing a virtual tour of what Soldier Field could look like after a complete remodel. 

The developer features a dome for year-round experiences, as well as, more seating and a transit hub to make getting to and from the venue easier. 

The reimagined stadium would focus on under-utilized spaces within the stadium’s current footprint to build new, immersive fan experiences, premium club lounges, and signature food halls, while improving access with a multi-modal transit hub and a dynamic entertainment destination district across the street, the company said in a press release. 

The plan involves rebuilding the endzones with columns to support a dome structure, so the stadium can be enclosed.

"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." 

The proposed transit hub would be built across the street above Metra storage tracks and a rail yard.

"This vision for Soldier Field could have enormous potential for the Museum Campus area," said Martin Cabrera, who led efforts related to the stadium as part of the Museum Campus Working Group. "The improved access and experience for fans and visitors will enhance the area as a year-round destination, while maintaining the park and open spaces and providing even more public amenities for all to enjoy." 

Landmark Development touts an "immersive fan environment" and improved tailgating experience around the stadium and adjacent to McCormick Place. 


The redevelopment would expand seating to include approximately 61,500-70,000 total seats. It also adds an expanded Veterans Memorial and quadruple the space for food and drink options. 

The north concourse would also be renovated and offer food, beverage, and retail options open throughout the year with access to the Museum Campus – whether or not an event is happening in the stadium. 

"A modernized Soldier Field, a reinvigorated Museum Campus, and a world-class multi-modal transit hub will serve as one our city’s most important civic assets and support the entire Chicago economy," said Jack Lavin, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. 

The "new" Soldier Field have venues within the venue to be used all year round. They feature an adjacent live performance space, a ballroom suitable for corporate and community events, and multiple upscale lounges and gathering areas accessible to the Museum Campus and Chicago Cultural Mile attractions. 

Each year, Soldier Field hosts football games, soccer matches, major concerts, sporting competitions, and other events. Landmark Development says the proposed redevelopment would bring new jobs and economic activity for Chicago.

The push for a modern Soldier Field comes after the Chicago Bears said they wanted to pack up and head to Arlington Heights last fall. 

In November, Arlington Heights trustees approved a pre-development agreement with the Bears. 

"The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park," a representative with the Bears told FOX 32 News Monday. 

Funding would surely be controversial because of the likely hit on taxpayers and the amount still unpaid on debt from Soldier Field’s 2003 renovation. The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which handles the debt, said the amount owed is $631.5 million on notes due by 2032.

Dunn said the city’s $2.2 billion cost estimate was reasonable but that inflation and rising interest rates inevitably would affect the project. He wouldn’t discuss taxpayer funding.

He predicted that Arlington Heights would cost far more and deliver less for the team and taxpayers.

Soldier Field draws from a central area that gets 50 million visitors a year, with 100 million vehicles a year zipping by on Du Sable Lake Shore Drive.

"Those are Disney-like numbers," Dunn said.

Arlington Heights, he said, might draw eight to 12 million annual visitors.

Dunn said the city and the Bears could strike new revenue-sharing deals covering parking, concessions, corporate sponsorships and other income sources.

"You have to have a different revenue mix," he said. "It can be solved. It’s been solved in a lot of markets across the country."

The Lightfoot administration responded to questions about Dunn’s plan with a written statement that offered no new details of public funding options.

"Mayor Lightfoot has been vocal about the need to reimagine the experience at Soldier Field," the statement said. "The city still believes that Soldier Field is the best home for the Chicago Bears and continues to . . . explore the future of the stadium."

With less than two months before the mayoral election, Dunn’s expanded presentation could be seen as a move to boost Lightfoot’s chances by showcasing her commitment to the lakefront asset. Dunn said his concern is planning, not politics.

"We have to have a vision here for the future of Soldier Field" whether the Bears move or not, he said. "I think any administration would look at this very favorably."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.