Soldier Field

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Soldier Field
"Stadium in a Park"
Soldier Field Logo.svg
Soldier field 2006.jpg

Soldier Field in 2006
Former names Municipal Grant Park Stadium (1924–1925)
Location 1410 S Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, IL 60605
Coordinates 41°51′45″N 87°37′0″W / 41.86250°N 87.61667°W / 41.86250; -87.61667Coordinates: 41°51′45″N 87°37′0″W / 41.86250°N 87.61667°W / 41.86250; -87.61667[1]
Broke ground August 11, 1922[2]
Opened October 9, 1924
Renovated 2002–2003
Closed January 19, 2002 – September 26, 2003 (renovations)
Owner City of Chicago
Operator SMG
Surface Grass (1924–1970, 1988–present)
AstroTurf (1971–1987)
Construction cost $13 million (original)[3]
($179 million in 2014 dollars)[4]

$632 million (2001–2003 renovation)[5]
Renovations: ($810 million in 2014 dollars[4])
Architect Holabird & Roche
Wood + Zapata, Inc.
Lohan Caprile Goettsch Architects
Project manager Hoffman Associates[6]
Structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti
Services engineer Ellerbe Becket[6]
General contractor Turner/Barton Malow/Kenny[6]
Capacity 63,500[7]
Executive suites 133
Acreage 7 acres (2.8 ha)[3]
Chicago Rockets/Hornets (AAFC) (1946–1949)
Chicago Cardinals (NFL) (1959)
Chicago Spurs (NPSL) (1967)
Chicago Bears (NFL) (1971–2001; 2003–present)
Chicago Sting (NASL) (1975–1976)
Chicago Fire (WFL) (1974)
Chicago Winds (WFL) (1975)
Chicago Blitz (USFL) (1983–1984)
Chicago Fire (MLS) (1998–2001, 2003–2005)
Chicago Enforcers (XFL) (2001)
Sculpture of a sailor and his family, gazing eastward, over Lake Michigan
Aerial view from 2002, showing Soldier Field with interior demolished. Meigs Field is to the right in the image.
Aerial view of the stadium
Configured for U2's 360° Tour, which opened in North America at Soldier Field on September 12–13, 2009
President Barack Obama throws a football at Soldier Field after the NATO summit

Soldier Field is an American football stadium on the Near South Side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Opened in 1924, it is the oldest NFL stadium, celebrating 90 years of operation. Since 1971 it has been the home of the National Football League's Chicago Bears. With a capacity of 61,500, it is the third smallest stadium in the NFL. In 2003, the interior underwent extensive renovation.


Origin of name and design model[edit]

The field serves as a memorial to American soldiers who have died in wars. It was designed in 1919 and opened on October 9, 1924, as Municipal Grant Park Stadium, changing its name to Soldier Field on November 11, 1925. Its formal dedication as Soldier Field was on Saturday, November 27, 1926, during the 29th annual playing of the Army–Navy Game.[8] Its design is modeled on the Greco-Roman architectural tradition, with doric columns rising above the entrance.

Early configuration[edit]

In its earliest configuration, Soldier Field was capable of seating 74,280 spectators and was in the shape of a U. Additional seating could be added along the interior field, upper promenades and on the large, open field and terrace beyond the north endzone, bringing the seating capacity to over 100,000. The largest crowd for any event at Soldier Field is difficult to determine.

Chicago Bears move in[edit]

Soldier Field was used as a site for many sporting events and exhibitions. In September 1971 the Chicago Bears made it their home. They previously played at Wrigley Field, best known as the home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. They had intended to build a stadium in Arlington Heights. In 1978, the Bears and the Chicago Park District agreed to a 20-year lease and renovation of the stadium. Both parties pooled their resources for the renovation.[9]

Replacement talks[edit]

In 1989, Soldier Field's future was in jeopardy after a proposal was created for a "McDome", which was intended to be a domed stadium for the Bears, but was rejected by the Illinois Legislature in 1990. Because of this, Bears president Michael McCaskey considered relocation as a possible factor for a new stadium. The Bears had also purchased options in Hoffman Estates and Aurora. In 1995, McCaskey announced that he and Northwest Indiana developers agreed to construction of an entertainment complex called "Planet Park", which would also include a new stadium. However, the plan was rejected by the Lake County Council, and in 1998, Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley proposed that the Bears share Comiskey Park with the Chicago White Sox.[10]

Renovation and landmark delisting[edit]

In 2001, the Chicago Park District, which owns the structure, faced substantial criticism when it announced plans to alter the stadium by architect Dirk Lohan, the grandson of architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, of the Chicago-based architecture firm of Lohan Associates in a joint venture with architect Benjamin T. Wood of the Boston-based architecture firm Wood and Zapata. The stadium's interior would be demolished and reconstructed while the exterior would be preserved.

Dozens of articles by writers and columnists attacked the project as an aesthetic, political, and financial nightmare. The project received nearly universally negative reviews, including criticism by civic and preservation groups, and the architecture community. Prominent American architect and Chicagoan Stanley Tigerman called it "a fiasco."[11] The Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin dubbed it the "Eyesore on the Lake Shore."[12][13][14][15] The renovation was describe by some as "a spaceship landed on the stadium".[16] Lohan responded,

"I would never say that Soldier Field is an architectural landmark. Nobody has copied it; nobody has learned from it. People like it for nostalgic reasons. They remember the games and parades and tractor pulls and veterans' affairs they've seen there over the years. I wouldn't do this if it were the Parthenon. But this isn't the Parthenon."[11]

Proponents argued the renovation was direly needed citing aging and cramped facilities. The New York Times ranked the renovated Soldier Field as one of the five best new buildings of 2003.[17] Soldier Field was given an award in design excellence by the American Institute of Architects in 2004.[18]

Beginning in 1978, the plank seating was replaced by individual seats with backs and armrests. In 1982, a new press box as well as 60 skyboxes were added to the stadium, boosting capacity to 66,030. Fifty-six more skyboxes were added in 1988, increasing capacity to 66,946. Capacity was slightly increased to 66,950 in 1992. By 1994, capacity was slightly reduced to 66,944. During the renovation, seating capacity was reduced to 55,701 by building a grandstand in the open end of the U shape. This moved the field closer to both ends at the expense of seating capacity. The goal of this renovation was to move the fans closer to the field. [8] The front row 50-yard line seats are now only 55 feet away from the sidelines, the shortest distance of all NFL stadiums, until MetLife Stadium opened in 2010, with a distance of 46 feet.[citation needed] Soldier Field received new light emitting diode (LED) video technology from Daktronics. Included in the installation was a video display measuring approximately 23 feet (7.0 m) high by 82 feet (25 m) wide and ribbon displays mounted on the fascia that measured more than 321 feet (98 m) in length.[19]

On September 23, 2004, as a result of the 2003 renovation, a 10-member federal advisory committee unanimously recommended that Soldier Field be delisted as a National Historic Landmark.[20][21] The recommendation to delist was prepared by Carol Ahlgren, architectural historian at the National Park Service's Midwest Regional Office in Omaha, Nebraska. Ahlgren was quoted in Preservation Online as stating that "if we had let this stand, I believe it would have lowered the standard of National Historic Landmarks throughout the country," and, "If we want to keep the integrity of the program, let alone the landmarks, we really had no other recourse." The stadium lost the Landmark designation on February 17, 2006.[22]

In May 2012, the stadium became the first NFL stadium to achieve LEED status.[23]

Public transportation[edit]

The closest Chicago 'L' station to Soldier Field is the Roosevelt station on the Orange, Green and Red lines. The Chicago Transit Authority also operates the #128 Soldier Field Express bus route to the stadium from Ogilvie Transportation Center and Union Station. There are also two Metra stations close by—the Museum Campus/11th Street station on the Metra Electric Line, which also is used by South Shore Line trains, and 18th Street, which is only served by the Metra Electric Line. Pace also provides access from the Northwest, West and Southwest suburbs to the stadium with four express routes from Schaumburg, Lombard, Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge, Palos Heights and Oak Lawn.



Single events[edit]

  • The stadium hosted its first football game, on October 4, 1924, between Louisville Male High School and Chicago Austin Community Academy High School. Louisville won 26–0. (Chicago Tribune, October 2, 1924)
  • Over 100,000 spectators attended the 1926 Army/Navy Game, this game would decide the national championship, as Navy entered undefeated and Army had lost only to Notre Dame. The game lived up to its hype, and even though the game ended in a 21–21 tie, Navy was awarded the national championship.[24]
  • The all-time collegiate attendance record of 123,000 plus was established November 26, 1927, as Notre Dame beat the University of Southern California 7–6.[8]
  • Austin beats Leo to win the 1937 Prep Bowl; another contender for the highest attendance ever (estimated at over 120,000 spectators). The Chicago Prep Bowl games are held here, every year the day after Thanksgiving. The bowl game is older than the IHSA state championship tournament held since the 1960s.
  • The stadium was the site of the former College All-Star Game, an exhibition between the last year's NFL champion (or, in its final years, Super Bowl champion) and a team of collegiate all-star players of the previous season prior to their reporting to the training camps of their new professional teams. This game was discontinued after the 1976 NFL season. The final game in 1976 was halted in the third quarter when a torrential thunderstorm broke out and play was never resumed.
  • Notre Dame hosted a game at Soldier Field against the University of Miami as part of their Shamrock Series.
  • Four NFC Championship Games have been held at the stadium.

NFL playoffs[edit]

  • Other Bears playoff games at Soldier Field:

NIU Huskies Football[edit]

The NIU Huskies football team plays select games at Soldier Field, all of which have featured the Huskies hosting a team from the Big Ten Conference. The NIU campus is located in DeKalb, 65 miles (105 km) to the west on Interstate 88.


Single events[edit]

Soldier Field before a soccer match

1994 FIFA World Cup matches[edit]

Germany vs Bolivia (Group C)

17 June 1994
Germany  1–0  Bolivia
Klinsmann Goal 61' Report
Soldier Field, Chicago
Attendance: 63,117
Referee: Arturo Brizio Carter (Mexico)

Germany vs Spain (Group C)

21 June 1994
Germany  1–1  Spain
Klinsmann Goal 48' Report Goikoetxea Goal 14'
Soldier Field, Chicago
Attendance: 63,113
Referee: Filippi Cavani (Uruguay)

Bulgaria vs Greece (Group D)

26 June 1994
Bulgaria  4–0  Greece
Stoichkov Goal 5' (pen.)55' (pen.)
Letchkov Goal 65'
Borimirov Goal 90'
Soldier Field, Chicago
Attendance: 63,160
Referee: Ali Bujsaim (United Arab Emirates)

Bolivia vs Spain (Group C)

27 June 1994
Bolivia  1–3  Spain
E. Sánchez Goal 67' Report Guardiola Goal 19' (pen.)
Caminero Goal 66'70'
Soldier Field, Chicago
Attendance: 63,089
Referee: Rodrigo Badilla (Costa Rica)

Germany vs Belgium (Round of 16)

2 July 1994
Germany  3 – 2  Belgium
Völler Goal 6'40'
Klinsmann Goal 11'
Report Grün Goal 8'
Albert Goal 90'
Soldier Field, Chicago
Attendance: 60,246
Referee: Kurt Röthlisberger (Switzerland)

Special Olympics[edit]

The 1st International Special Olympics Summer Games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 19–20, 1968. The games spanned two days and more than 1,000 people with intellectual disabilities from 26 U.S. states and Canada competed in track and field and swimming, sparking a worldwide Special Olympics movement that now thrives today.


NHL Stadium Series[edit]

The Chicago Blackhawks played against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 1, 2014 as part of the NHL's Stadium Series. The Blackhawks defeated the Penguins 5-1 under a sold-out crowd of 62,921.[25]

OfficeMax Hockey City Classic[edit]

On February 17, 2013, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Miami RedHawks played a doubleheader with the Wisconsin Badgers and Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first ever outdoor hockey game in the history of the stadium.[26]

Rugby Union[edit]

The stadium is expected to host its first international rugby union Test match between the USA and New Zealand on November 1, 2014 as part of the 2014 end-of-year rugby union tests.[27]


Other events[edit]

Soldier Field in popular culture[edit]



  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Soldier Field
  2. ^ "Start Work On New Municipal Stadium In Grant Park, Chicago". The Christian Science Monitor. August 16, 1922. 
  3. ^ a b "Stadium History and Timeline". Official website. Soldier Field. 2010. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  5. ^ Riess, Steven A. (2005). "Soldier Field". The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c Published October 6, 2003 (October 6, 2003). "After a quick build, showtime in Chicago". SportsBusiness Journal. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Soldier Field". January 9, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c "Historical timeline of Soldier Field". Chicago Bears. 2009. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  9. ^ Lugardo, Sara (2012-12-16). "History of Tailgating in Chicago". WBBM-TV. Retrieved 2012-12-16. 
  10. ^ Taylor, Roy. "Soldier Field History". Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Sharoff, Robert (November 2002). "Field of Pain". Chicago Magazine. 
  12. ^ Kamin, Blair (July 25, 2004). "Why losing Soldier Field's Landmark Status Matters". Chicago Tribune ( Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  13. ^ Kamin, Blair (April 5, 2001). "Soldier field plan: On further Review, the Play Stinks". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 14, 2012. 
  14. ^ Kamin, Blair (June 11, 2001). "The Monstrosity of the Midway; Mr. Mayor: Stop the Madness and Admit That the Lakefront Is No Place for the Bears". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 14, 2012. 
  15. ^ Kamin, Blair (July 11, 2001). "A tale of Hungry Bears and White Elephants". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 14, 2012. 
  16. ^ Chapman, Steve (September 14, 2003). "A stadium deal that is hard to bear". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  17. ^ Muschamp, Herbert (December 23, 2003). "ARCHITECTURE: THE HIGHS; The Buildings (and Plans) of the Year". The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  18. ^ Mayer, Larry. "Soldier Field wins prestigious award". Chicago Bears. Retrieved October 7, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Soldier Field". 
  20. ^ "Soldier Field loses National Historic Landmark status". General Cultural Resources News. eCulturalResources. April 24, 2006. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  21. ^ Murray, Jeanne (October 20, 2006). "Leveling the Playing Field". Preservation Magazine. National Trust for Historic Preservation. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Weekly List of Actions taken on properties: 4/17/06 through 4/21/06". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 28, 2006. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  23. ^ "Soldier Field earns top building honor". Chicago Bears. May 31, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  24. ^ "1926 Army-Navy Game". Library Archives. United States Naval Academy. November 26, 2001. Retrieved May 21, 2010. [dead link]
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^ [2]
  27. ^
  28. ^ Checkered Flag Waves for NASCAR Legends story - Soldier Field
  29. ^ Higgins, Tom (July 9, 2010). "Chicago's storied Soldier Field was once a NASCAR track". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Throwback Thursday: Chicagoland". NASCAR. September 12, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2013. 
  31. ^ Cohen, Adam; Taylor, Elizabeth (2000). American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation. Boston: Little, Brown. p. [page needed]. ISBN 0-316-83403-3. OCLC 42392137. 
  32. ^ "Soldier Field – Building #84001052". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 1984. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  33. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". National Park Service. April 28, 2006. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  34. ^ "President Obama throws football at Soldier Field". Chicago Bears. May 21, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  35. ^ Siege #1
  36. ^ Avengers (vol. 4) #1
  37. ^ "Powers of Ten". Film and description. Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN). June 14, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2011. "The zoom-out continues, to a view of 100 meters (10^2 m), then 1 kilometer (10^3 m), and so on, increasing the perspective. The picnic is revealed to be taking place near Soldier Field on Chicago's waterfront, and continuing to zoom out to a field of view of 10^24 meters, or the size of the observable universe." 
  38. ^ Turan, Kenneth (October 20, 2006). "Movie Review: Flags of Our Fathers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]