Chicago mayor presents 3 options for improving Soldier Field

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday presented three options for renovating Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears, but the team said it’s not interested.

Lightfoot proposed fully enclosing the stadium by rebuilding both end zones with columns that can support a dome; rebuilding both end zones with columns to make the stadium dome-ready; or modifying Soldier Field to be a multi-purpose stadium better suited for soccer.

“Any of these proposed renovations will allow Soldier Field to retain its role as an economic engine for Chicago for years to come,” Lightfoot said in a news release.

The mayor’s office estimated the costs of the three options would range from $900 million to $2.2 billion. It did not say how it would pay for any of the options.

The proposed renovations would expand seating from 61,500 seats (now the lowest capacity in the NFL) up to 70,000; increase the number of suites from 133 to 140; and quadruple concession area square footage from 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) to 200,000 square feet (18,580 square meters), the mayor’s office said.

The Bears had no new comment on Lightfoot’s proposals but the team reiterated the same statement it issued July 7 when a panel appointed by Lightfoot recommended the city explore enclosing Soldier Field.

“The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park. 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,” that statement said.

The team signed a purchase agreement last year for a 326-acre (131.93-hectare) site in suburban Arlington Heights, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) miles northwest of Soldier Field, that could be the site of a future stadium. President Ted Phillips has said that deal likely won’t close until early 2023, at which point the team will decide whether it’s “financially feasible to try to develop it further.”

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