|"Stadium in a Park"|
Soldier Field in 2006
|Former names||Municipal Grant Park Stadium (1924–1925)|
|Location||1410 S Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, IL 60605|
|Broke ground||August 11, 1922|
|Opened||October 9, 1924
Reopened September 29, 2003
|Closed||January 19, 2002 – September 26, 2003 (renovations)|
|Demolished||2002-2003 (for renovations)|
|Owner||City of Chicago|
|Surface||Grass (1924–1970, 1988–present)
|Construction cost||$13 million (original)
($174 million in 2013 dollars)
$632 million (2001–2003 renovation)
Renovations: ($789 million in 2013 dollars)
|Architect||Holabird & Roche
Wood + Zapata, Inc.
Lohan Caprile Goettsch Architects
|Project manager||Hoffman Associates|
|Structural engineer||Thornton Tomasetti|
|Services engineer||Ellerbe Becket|
|General contractor||Turner/Barton Malow/Kenny|
|Acreage||7 acres (2.8 ha)|
|Chicago Bears (NFL) (1971–2001, 2003–present)
NIU Huskies (MAC) (2007, 2011-2012, 2016)
Chicago Fire (MLS) (1998–2001, 2003–2005)
Chicago Enforcers (XFL) (2001)
Chicago Blitz (USFL) (1983–1984)
Chicago Sting (NASL) (1975–1976)
Chicago Winds (WFL) (1975)
Chicago Fire (WFL) (1974)
Chicago Spurs (NPSL) (1967)
Chicago Cardinals (NFL) (1959)
Chicago Rockets/Hornets (AAFC) (1946–1949)
Soldier Field reopened in 2003 after a complete rebuild. With a capacity of 61,500, it is the 2nd smallest stadium in the NFL. It is also the oldest continually operating NFL stadium.
Origin of name and design model 
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 vs Navy game. Its design is modeled on the Greco-Roman architectural tradition, with doric columns rising above the entrance.
Early configuration 
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 
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.
Replacement talks 
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.
Renovation and delisting 
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 & Zapata; it was announced that 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." The Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin dubbed it the "Eyesore on the Lake Shore." Despite the criticism, Soldier Field was given an award in design excellence by the American Institute of Architects in 2004. Proponents argued the renovation was direly needed citing aging and cramped facilities. The New York Times ranked the facility as one of the five best new buildings of 2003. 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."
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. 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.
During the renovation, 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.
The current design of the stadium, with the Greek style columns being the primary remnant of the older facility, has prompted some fans to refer to the stadium as the "Spaceship on Soldier Field". This is because of how the new stadium bowl rises above and hangs over the columns, which was largely not the case in the older design. Also with the renovation, the front row 50-yard line seats are now only 55 feet away from the sidelines. This was the shortest distance of all NFL stadiums, until MetLife Stadium opened in 2010, with a distance of 46 feet.
Before the Bears moved in, 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. 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.
Public transportation 
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Over 15,000 spectators attend the first leg of the 1928 National Challenge Cup (now known as the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup) between soccer teams Bricklayers and Masons F.C. of Chicago and New York Nationals of New York City. The match ended in 1–1 tie, and New York won the second leg 3–0 in New York City
- Austin beats Leo to win 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 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.
- 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.
- The 1985 NFC Championship Game took place in Soldier Field, where the Bears defeated the Los Angeles Rams 24–0.
- The 1988 NFC Championship Game took place here, where the Bears lost to eventual Super Bowl XXIII champions San Francisco 49ers 28–3.
- The 2006 NFC Championship Game granted the Bears their second trip to the Super Bowl, the first in 21 years, with a 39–14 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
- The 2010 NFC Championship Game matched the Bears against the Green Bay Packers, where the Bears were defeated by the eventual Super Bowl XLV champions, 21–14.
- Other Bears playoff games at Soldier Field:
- 1985 NFC Divisional Playoff: Bears 21, New York Giants 0
- 1986 NFC Divisional Playoff: Washington Redskins 27, Bears 13
- 1987 NFC Divisional Playoff: Washington 21, Bears 17
- 1988 NFC Divisional Playoff: Bears 20, Philadelphia Eagles 12 (this game is best remembered as the Fog Bowl, where dense fog covered the stadium, reducing visibility down to 15–20 yards.)
- 1990 NFC Wild Card: Bears 16, New Orleans Saints 6
- 1991 NFC Wild Card: Dallas Cowboys 17, Bears 13
- 2001 NFC Divisional Playoff: Philadelphia 33, Bears 19. This was also the last home game before the renovations took place in 2002.
- 2005 NFC Divisional Playoff: Carolina Panthers 29, Bears 21
- 2006 NFC Divisional Playoff: Bears 27, Seattle Seahawks 24 (OT)
- 2010 NFC Divisional Playoff: Bears 35, Seattle Seahawks 24
- U.S. Men's National Soccer Team vs. Brazil in a friendly match - September 9, 2007.
- U.S. Men's National Soccer Team vs Mexico men's national football team in the 2007 Gold Cup with the U.S. winning 2-1
NIU Huskies Football 
- On September 1, 2007, NIU faced the University of Iowa in the first Division I College Football game at Soldier Field since renovations.
- On September 17, 2011, the Huskies returned to Soldier Field and played the Wisconsin Badgers in a game that was called the "Soldier Field Showdown II".
- On September 1, 2012, NIU hosted the Iowa Hawkeyes in the season opener that was called the "Soldier Field Showdown III".
- On September 24, 2016, the NIU Huskies will host the Nebraska Huskers at Soldier Field.
OfficeMax Hockey City Classic 
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. 
NHL Stadium Series 
1994 FIFA World Cup matches 
|Date||Time (CDT)||Team #1||Res.||Team #2||Round||Spectators|
|1994-06-17||14.00||Germany||1–0||Bolivia||Group C (opening match)||63,117|
|1994-07-03||13.30||Germany||3–2||Belgium||Round of 16||60,246|
Other events 
- The 28th International Eucharistic Congress held three days of outdoor day and evening events from June 21–23, 1926.
- The Long Count Fight, the second heavyweight championship bout between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, was held at Soldier Field on September 22, 1927.
- US General during World War II Douglas MacArthur addressed a crowd of 50,000 at Soldier Field, which was his first visit to the United States in 14 years in April 1951.
- Glenn "Fireball" Roberts won the only NASCAR Grand National race held at the stadium's short track which ran across the old configuration, in 1956.
- The Chicago Freedom Movement, led by Martin Luther King, held a rally here on July 10, 1966. As many as 60,000 people came to hear Dr. King as well as Mahalia Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Peter, Paul and Mary.
- The early-to-mid 80s saw the US Hot Rod Association host Truck and Tractor Sled Pull Competitions and Monster Truck exhibitions here. The engines on some of the vehicles would echo through the skyscrapers in downtown Chicago as they made their pull. Damage to the stadium turf on a few of the event occasion's led USHRA to move events to the Rosemont Horizon (known today as Allstate Arena).
- The stadium was listed on the National Register of Historic Places beginning in 1984. It was removed in 2006.
- In 2012, United States President Barack Obama held a NATO summit at Soldier Field.
Soldier Field in popular culture 
- In the Marvel Comics event Siege, Soldier Field is inadvertently destroyed mid-game by Thor's friend Volstagg when he is tricked into fighting the U-Foes through Loki and Norman Osborn's manipulations of events. The stadium is later seen being rebuilt by the heroes after Steve Rogers is appointed head of U.S. Security, following the aforementioned event.
- The 1968 documentary film Powers of Ten focuses on two people having a picnic on the east side of Soldier Field.
- The stadium appears in the 2006 Clint Eastwood-directed movie Flags of Our Fathers, when the survivors of the Iwo Jima flag-raising reenact it for a patriotic rally.
Aerial view, c. 1988, behind the stadium is the Field Museum of Natural History
View from Northerly Island
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Soldier Field
- "Start Work On New Municipal Stadium In Grant Park, Chicago". The Christian Science Monitor. August 16, 1922.
- "Stadium History and Timeline". Official website. Soldier Field. 2010. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- Staff. Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2012. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
- Riess, Steven A. (2005). "Soldier Field". The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- Published October 6, 2003 (October 6, 2003). "After a quick build, showtime in Chicago". SportsBusiness Journal. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
- "Soldier Field". ESPN.com. January 9, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "Historical timeline of Soldier Field". Chicago Bears. 2009. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- Lugardo, Sara (2012-12-16). "History of Tailgating in Chicago". WBBM-TV. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- Taylor, Roy. "Soldier Field History". Bearshistory.com. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Sharoff, Robert (November 2002). "Field of Pain". Chicago Magazine.
- Kamin, Blair (July 25, 2004). "Why losing Soldier Field's Landmark Status Matters". Chicago Tribune (Skyscrapercity.com). Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- Kamin, Blair (April 5, 2001). "Soldier field plan: On further Review, the Play Stinks". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
- 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.
- Kamin, Blair (July 11, 2001). "A tale of Hungry Bears and White Elephants". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
- Mayer, Larry. "Soldier Field wins prestigious award". Chicago Bears. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- Muschamp, Herbert (December 23, 2003). "ARCHITECTURE: THE HIGHS; The Buildings (and Plans) of the Year". The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- "Soldier Field loses National Historic Landmark status". General Cultural Resources News. eCulturalResources. April 24, 2006. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- Murray, Jeanne (October 20, 2006). "Leveling the Playing Field". Preservation Magazine. National Trust for Historic Preservation. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- "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.
- "Soldier Field".
- Chapman, Steve (September 14, 2003). "A stadium deal that is hard to bear". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- "Soldier Field earns top building honor". Chicago Bears. May 31, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "1926 Army-Navy Game". Library Archives. United States Naval Academy. November 26, 2001. Retrieved May 21, 2010.[dead link]
- Checkered Flag Waves for NASCAR Legends story - Soldier Field
- Higgins, Tom (July 9, 2010). "Chicago's storied Soldier Field was once a NASCAR track". www.thatsracin.com. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
- 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.
- "Soldier Field – Building #84001052". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 1984. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- "National Register of Historic Places Listings". National Park Service. April 28, 2006. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "President Obama throws football at Soldier Field". Chicago Bears. May 21, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Siege #1
- Avengers (vol. 4) #1
- "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."
- Turan, Kenneth (October 20, 2006). "Movie Review: Flags of Our Fathers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
Further reading 
- Ford, Liam T. A. (2009). Soldier Field: A Stadium and Its City. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-25706-8. OCLC 317923072.
- Barboza, David (June 16, 2003). "Chicago Journal; Soldier Field Renovation Brings Out Boo-Birds". The New York Times. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
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