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Soldier Field is a stadium that opened in 1924. It has primarily served as the home field of the Chicago Bears professional football club for over four decades, but it also hosted numerous other events in its more than 90 years of existence (and was not made the home to the Chicago Bears until 1971, as prior to that season the Bears played at Wrigley Field). The Bears' intent was originally to move from Wrigley Field to Northwestern's Dyche Stadium, but that move was blocked by Evanston as well as the Big Ten Conference, so they later took the City of Chicago up on their offer to move into Soldier Field where they have since played. Soldier Field has hosted a great variety and quantity of events since it opened.
September 5 was the first day of the first dedicatory event at Soldier Field. It was an athletic meet with policemen as participants, and was a fundraiser for the Chicago Police Benevolent Association, which provided support for police widows and officers disabled in the line of action. The meet's official opening ceremony on the second day featured 1,200 police officers parading through the stadium, fireworks, and music by two police bands, among other entertainment. The contests in the event included a chariot race and a game of "motorcycle polo". The opening ceremony was attended by 45,000 spectators. Events raising funds for Chicago's Policemen and Firemen Benevolent funds were a mainstay at Soldier Field until 1971.
On September 10, there was yet another dedicatory event at Soldier Field. This one was the "Pageant of Music and Light", and was followed less than two weeks later by another ceremony.
On September 27, Soldier Field hosted a Chicago Daily News-sponsored women's track meet featuring more than 500 Chicago-area participants. In addition to traditional track and field events, the competitions also included such events as a basketball distance throw.
On October 9, a "Chicago Day" event, marking the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, was attended by a crowd of 60,000. The event contained the formal dedication and official opening of Grant Park Municipal Stadium. The event included military troops partaking in a mock battle, equine performances by riders from the 14th Cavalry's Troop A, and a semi re-enactment of the Great Chicago Fire with firemen (including ten who actually had fought the Great Fire) fighting the fire using Fire King No. 1 (Chicago's first pump engine). In the re-enactment, a cow knocked over a lantern (according to lore), a replica of the O'Leary barn was burned down, and firemen used modern equipment to fight a fire in a mock-up of a three-story building. Following this spectacle there were police drills, performances by two police quartets, and a polo match. The teams in the polo match were led by Chicago Tribune owner Robert R. McCormick and Hotel Sherman manager Frank Bering. McCormick's team won 5–4.
On May 9, Soldier Field hosted the South Parks Marble Championship. The tournament included both adult and juvenile competitions.
From May 22–25, the 65th Reserves and its superior outfit, the Army's Sixth Corps, sponsored the first of numerous military pageants held at Soldier Field. There were two shows a day, airplane fights in the afternoon, searchlights and antiaircraft-mimicking fireworks in the evening. The highlight of the day shows was a radio-dispatched arrangement of warplanes flying over the stadium. Audience members could hear the air-to-ground radio communication via the stadium's state-of-the-art loudspeaker system, and watch the planes respond to the ground command and perform stunts. 25,000 attended the first afternoon show, among them Vice PresidentCharles G. Dawes. The temperature was 92 degrees. The show reenacted the Battle of the Argonne utilizing, among other things, a smoke screen and four tanks. In the first night show's reenactment an infantryman was injured when he was trampled by horses, and prior to that show a policeman partaking in a Roman-style horse race was thrown from his horse and also injured. For the final day wind kept the planes grounded, and the crowd was small due to chilly temperature that peaked near 40 degrees. Nonetheless, entire event was deemed a success.
April 19 Loyola University held an intercollegiate track meet at Soldier Field. Amongst the participants in the competition was nine-time Olympic gold medalist (and three-time silver medalist) Paavo Nurmi of Finland who was in the last several weeks of a five-month US tour (during which he participated in 55 competitions). Nurmi had won five gold medals at the 1924 Summer Olympics. Also competing was fellow Finnish Olympian Ville Ritola, who was also a United States resident and had traveled with Nurmi during his tour. Nurmi defeated Ritola in the meet.
In May Soldier Field held and event dubbed the "first annual Chicago Olympics", an athletics event sponsored by the Finnish-American Athletic Association. Notable male competitors include Finnish five-time Olympic gold medalist (and three-time silver medalist) Ville Ritola, Finnish two-time Olympic gold medalist Jonni Myyrä, American two-time Olympic gold medalist Harold Osborne. Notable female competitors included US Women's Athletics legends Helen Filkey, Norma Zilk, and Nellie Todd (who, along with Zilk, was a protégé of University of Chicago track coach Tom Eck). Norma Filkey set a record in hurdles at the event, Jonni Myyrä set a javelin record at the event, Harold Osborne won as the best overall athlete of the competition, and Ville Ritola won the 2-mile race. Due largely to 90-degree heat only 2,500 spectators attended this event.
September 20 Chicago's German-American community held its first annual German Day event at Soldier Field, featuring a soccer match, athletics, performances and ceremonies. The event raised funds for numerous charities. German Day events were held annually at Soldier Field until 1937, regularly drawing crowds in excess of 40,000.
November 7 Northwestern played Michigan at Soldier Field. 70,000 tickets had been sold, but just over 40,000 spectators attended due to severely inclement weather. Northwestern won 3–2.
November 11, the American Legion and South Park commissioners organized a commemoration of Armistice Day marking the stadium's name change from "Grant Park Municipal Stadium" to "Soldier Field". The day began the firing of guns at sunrise. At eleven in the morning, a 21-gun salute was fired in Chicago's Grant Park and people in the 'Chicago Loop' paused, men removing their hats, and held moment of silent prayer and reflection. In the afternoon, former Governor of IllinoisFrank Lowden and naval officer John A. Rodgers were the guests of honor in the ceremonies held at Soldier Field. At the time Rodgers was a national hero, following his attempted nonstop flight two months earlier, and was all-over the news. Lowden had been heavily involved in the effort to rename Soldier Field. Much like Rodgers, Lowden was also a big-name at the time. A former Illinois Congressman and Governor, Lowden had declined the Vice-Presidential nomination at the 1924 Republican National Convention, a position which was taken by fellow-Illinoisan Charles G. Dawes (who ultimately would go on to win the 1924 election as Calvin Coolidge's running mate). The event at Soldier Field began with decorated war veterans escorting Gold Star Mothers to their seats, and a salute fired by field artillery. The Flag of the United States was then raised, followed with a large banner baring the words 'Soldier Field' that had been carried into the stadium by the Gold Star Mothers. This was followed with a parade led by an Army general. The parade featured sailors from the nearby Great Lakes Naval Station, Reserve Officers' Training Corps units, and various veterans groups (including the Grand Army of the Republic). Following the procession of the parade, Rodgers spoke about his attempted non-stop flight. Other speakers included South Park Board-member, and future-mayor, Edward J. Kelley. The ceremony was attended by over 20,000.
After success of the 1925 Chicago Roundup, Soldier Field hosted another Chicago Roundup in 1926. The 1926 Chicago Roundup was also a great success, even managing to draw 35,000 spectators on a rainy day.
June 21–23 the 28th International Eucharistic Congress held three days of outdoor day and evening events at Soldier Field. Mass was held for a total of 500,000 gathered both in and outside of Soldier Field's gates.
July 4, marking the nation's sesquicentennial (150th anniversary), the Loyal Order of Moose arranged an Independence Day program for Soldier Field.
July 27 50,000 people attended a program held by the Lutherans from the Missouri Synod to commemorate the USA's sesquicentennial.
November 27 over 110,000 spectators attended the 1926 Army-Navy Game. It 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 it ended in a 21–21 tie, Navy was awarded the national championship. Amongst the 110,000 in attendance (which at the time was the largest crowd for a football game) were the Vice President of the United States Charles G. Dawes as well as the United States Secretary of the NavyCurtis D. Wilbur. Also in attendance was legendary Notre Dame Fighting Irish football coach Knute Rockne, who considered the game at Soldier Field important enough to warrant his missing his own team's game against Carnegie Tech that day (a game which Rockne's undefeated Fighting Irish lost in an upset that was ranked the fourth-greatest upset in college football history by ESPN) The game was also broadcast nationally on radio, a notable early use of the rising broadcast medium. Walter Eckersdall of the Chicago Tribune dubbed it to be "one of the greatest football games ever played", and proclaimed that it had been seen by "the largest crowd that ever saw a football game in this country." More than a decade later, the readers of Esquire magazine voted this the best football game of all time. Even today many revere this as the greatest Army-Navy game ever.
1926 marked the first year that a football game benefiting causes related to the Chicago Sisters of Mercy (amongst them the order's Catholic high schools and Mercy Hospital). These games were held annually until the 1951. Most often it featured a matchup of two Catholic League schools (commonly Saint Rita and Leo). Some years the game included professional or college teams. The game usually attracted between 20,000 and 30,000 spectators. It was started by Sister Mary Ricardo, who decided a football game would be a good annual fundraiser after a meeting with Chris O'Brien. O'Brien suggested that a game against the Kansas City Cowboys could be moved from Comiskey Park to Soldier Field.
In June a Women's track meet sponsored by the Chicago Evening American was held at Soldier Field, The meet featured many notable participants, but it is best remembered as the debut of future Olympic legend Betty Robinson, who would go on to win two Olympic gold medals and one silver while competing for the United States. In the 100-meter race she set a world-record with a time of 12 seconds (the previous record was 12.6) in a semi-final qualifying heat (despite a strong north wind), and finished with the same time in the final, defeating Helen Filkey by 1 yard. Robinson was only 16 years of age at the time.
In 1928 Tex Austin staged his final rodeo event at Soldier Field. The event featured celebrities such as Hoot Gibson and Tom Mix. During the event Gibson shot scenes for his movie King of the Rodeo.
The 1928 Peel Cup finals were played at Soldier Field.
October 13 Notre Dame defeated Navy in a 7–0 game. Among those in attendance were New York MayorJames L. Walker (who was in Chicago for a Democratic rally) and Democratic candidate for governor (and former state Supreme Court justice) Floyd E. Thompson. This game was attended by 120,000 spectators. This game is argued to possibly hold the all-time collegiate attendance record, as some sources (such as the Chicago Tribune) reported the November 25, 1927 match at Soldier Field to have had a then all-time high attendance of 117,000, while the NCAA recorded the attendance as 120,000, which it deems to be the 'largest pre-1948 regular season college football attendance'. A figure of 123,000 was reported by the official Park District attendance count.
In 1929 Soldier Field hosted its first Sokol national slet. In the USA national slets (a word for gatherings) are held every four years. The 1929 slet drew 25,000. In attendance was U.S. representative Ruth Hanna McCormick. Slets included gymnastics competitions and track and field events amongst other sports. At the 1929 slet athletes from 1,200 US Sokol organizations participated in Olympic-style individual gymnastic events. Also, in the 1929 slet 2,000 Chicago youth partook in a mass gymnastic drill timed to orchestral music.
In 1929 Soldier Field again hosted the South Parks Marble Championship.
In 1929 Soldier Field held its second-ever firefighting demonstration.
October 26 was the first time that a long-running football rivalry game between Tuskegree and Wilberforce University (both historically black colleges) was held at Soldier Field. This was second time that this rivalry was ever played. The 1929 game also provided a championship among historically black colleges. Tuskegee's star player was College Football Hall of Fame-inducted running backBen Stevenson. The game was attended by 12,000 spectators. The game was thereafter played annually at Soldier Field until 1942, the only three exceptions being 1931 when game held at Mills Stadium in Chicago, 1932 when in place of this matchup Wilberforce played a different team at another venue in Chicago, and 1937 when the game was cancelled. After 1942 the game was moved Chicago's Comiskey Park, where it was played annually until 1949. Overall, Wilberforce recorded nine victories, Tuskegee recorded eight victories, and three games were tied in the rivalry series. The rivalry series was remembered endearingly by many in Chicago's African-American community, notably singer Lou Rawls.
In 1930 a multiple-day track meet at held at Soldier Field attracted over 40,000 spectators to its last night of events. The event was a multinational competition between athletes from the British Empire a team of US competitors. Similar events had been hosted in England, with the one at Soldier Field being the first hosted in the United States. Notable participants included Ralph Metcalfe.
In 1930 the Chicago Daily News sponsored an event benefitting the Chicago firefighter's benevolent association. This would become an annual event.
20,000 spectators attended the 1930 Public League championship, which substituted for the Prep Bowl (which was not played in either 1929 nor in 1930, and was decided by forfeit in 1928).
May 12 Soldier Field held its first amateur boxing event. This event was a Golden Gloves tournament sponsored by the Chicago Tribune. The tournament had outgrown its former home at the Chicago Stadium, and was moved to Soldier Field that year. The Chicago-based Golden Gloves tournament was the brain-child of Arch Ward, and was first held in 1923, before a brief state ban, and again was revived in 1928. It had begun as a local contest, but quickly became a regional Midwestern and finally a national amateur championship. In 1931 it became an international event, with the addition of international competitors, in the case of the 1931 tournament 10 young Frenchmen were invited to participate. To ensure that in the case of rain the event could be moved to the Chicago Stadium, only 21,000 tickets were sold in advance, but on the day of the fights 40,000 showed up at Soldier Field. The ring was placed in the center of Soldier Field's arena, and was surrounded by 22,000 'ringside seats' placed on a giant, slightly sloped, floor. The bouts were kicked off following a band and fireworks. In the first bout Leo Rodak defeated André Perrier for the flyweight title.
June 24 Soldier Field hosted a war show celebrating the bicentennial of George Washington's birth. The show took up residence at Soldier Field for an eleven-day run. The show was opened at 8pm with a flyover by four squadrons of fighter planes escorting a plane being flown by Amelia Earhart and painted to resemble a red and white eagle. Amelia later landed and made her way to the stadium, where she was given a gold medal and she spoke to the crowd (as well as an audience listening to a radio broadcast of the event) about her flight across the atlantic the previous year.
June 24-July 4 Soldier Field held the United States Army Military Tournament to celebrate the George Washington Bicentennial. The event included aerial demonstrations, combat enactments, artillery demonstrations, Olympic-style athletics competition, a parade, and pyrotechnic displays. Involved in the aerial demonstrations was Major Gerald E. Brower.
Balloon taking off before and audience of 44,000 at Soldier Field
August 3 Soldier Field held its final Chicago Golden Gloves tournament. This tournament was held in conjunction of Chicago's 1933–1934 Century of Progress World's Fair. More than 48,000 people attended the matches, despite a one-day postponement due to rain. This tournament featured participants from Ireland. The first two bouts were won by Irish participants, but the next six were won by American participants. Irish heavyweight champion Patrick Mulligan was knocked out broke his ankle during his bout. This was the last edition of the Chicago Golden Gloves to be held at Soldier Field. The tournament has been held at other Chicago venues ever-since.
August 12, coinciding with the Fair's Negro Day, an African American pageant entitled Epic of a Race was performed at Soldier Field. Chandler Owen, who headed the organization of Negro Day events, employed author and WJJD radio staffer Andrew Dobson as the author and theatrical producer and dance instructor Sammy Dyer as the director of the production. Carl Sandburg was consulted by Dobson on the historical accuracy of his script. Renowned actor Richard B. Harrison was the master of ceremonies for the event, which featured 1,500 performers, about 3,000 singers, music by the 8th Infantry Regiment Band, and portrayed 11 different historic episodes.
The 1933 Peel Cup finals were played at Soldier Field.
In the Summer of 1933 Soldier Field hosted the Forty-Sixth annual National Amateur Athletic Union meet. The track and field event only managed to attract just over 8,000 spectators. A commentator wrote, "Judged solely by the caliber of its athletes, (it) was one of the best in the history of the modern games", but added "By the standards of attendance....the games flopped."
85,000 spectators attended the fourth annual Chicagoland Music Festival in 1933.
The Canadian professional soccer champion Toronto Scots played St. Louis' Stix, Baer and Fuller team, the U.S. champions, for the North American soccer title in 1933. The Scots won 2-1. This event was one of many Soldier Field sporting events that was tied-into the ongoing Worlds Fair.
Easter of 1934 Soldier Field held its first nondenominational Protestant Easter sunrise service. A year earlier a similar event had been held near the stadium at the site of the adjacent World's Fair.
In 1934 attendance for the annual war show was high. Every night the show would end with a re-enactment of the World War I Battle of Cantigny.
A Celtic cultural pageant, Pageant of the Celt, was performed at Soldier Field. It was narrated by Micheál MacLiammoir. The pageant required a 1,000-person choir. It proved so popular that a second performance was given at Soldier Field.
August 24 45,000 spectators attended an all-star college football matchup between an East and a West all-star team. Harry Newman of Michigan threw a touchdown pass to Gene Ronzani of Marquette in last minutes of play, giving the East team a victory.
Easter of 1935 23,000 people attended the nondenominational Protestant Easter sunrise service held at Soldier Field.
May 19, Soldier Field began its long tradition of hosting midget automobile races. Midget racing star Marshall Lewis was winner of the first race held at Soldier Field, finishing first-place in the main event. 20,000 spectators attended the event.
August 1935, when the west tower of the 1933 World Fair's Sky Ride was demolished, it fell into a portion of Soldier Field's exterior walls, requiring $50,000 in repairs.
Football signed by all of the 1933 College All-Stars
July 22 the Chicago Catholic Youth Organization held its first boxing tournament at Soldier Field. This was an intercity boxing meet against New York's Catholic Youth Association. The proceeds of the tournament went to the CYO Mil Fund to help feed 35,000 students in n onsecretarian summer schools run at Chicago Catholic schools. The Catholic Youth Organization would hold numerous intercity and international boxing tournaments at Soldier Field over the next several years.
The 1936 edition of the German Day Festival was had a greater focus on pageantry and dancing versus the sports that were the focus of previous editions.
In 1936 national softball championships for both men and women were held at Soldier Field. The stadium's arena was big enough to hold five softball diamonds with their home plates along the west stands (on the running track). All five were used simultaneously during the day, but only three were used at the same time for night games. Teams from 40 states and Canada participated, but rain delayed the tournament so it started two days late. A game that stood out was one attended by 15,000 spectators that featured the teams from Rochester and Cleveland facing off (Rochester, led by amateur softball legend Harold "Shifty" Gears, defeated Cleveland 2–0 in that game).
In 1936 a game was held at Soldier Field between rival high schools Tilden and Austin was held at Soldier Field. During the game Tilden player Lou Rymkus blocked a kick and scored a touchdown. Rymkus would later refer to this as the most memorable game of his high school career.
In late 1936 an ice rink was erected in Soldier Field.
In 1936 the U.S. Central Ski Association held its annual ski meet at Soldier Field. They built a temporary ski jump that was 13-stories.
In 1936 a Chicago-area ski group sponsored an invitational ski tournament at Soldier Field.
February 7, 1937, the Chicago Daily Times sponsored a ski jump meet of the U.S. Central Ski Association at Soldier Field. The meet attracted 57,000 spectators, believed to be the largest crowd to ever see a ski jumping competition in the U.S. The temporary 180-foot tall all-wood ski jump tower was constructed by the Timber Engineering Company (TECO).
In 1937 Soldier Field held many events in honor of Chicago's Charter Jubilee, which was a celebration of the centennial of Chicago's 1837 incorporation as a city. The events were held between March 4 (the date of Chicago's incorporation) and October 9 (the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire) Amongst the events Soldier Field held in celebration of the Jubilee were boxing matches.
Only 12,000 attended the 1937 Easter sunrise service at Soldier Field due to cold weather. The service that year was counted as a Charter Jubilee event.
50,000 attended a pageant celebrating the contributions of Polish Chicagoans held as part of the Charter Jubilee.
In 1937 attendance for the annual war show was high.
In 1937 Soldier Field again held national softball championships for both men and women.
April 17 50,000 attended the 1938 Easter sunrise service at Soldier Field. The service had Charles E. Fuller as its chief minister.
July 4, as part of the American Legion Fourth of July show held at Soldier Field, a 124th Artillery team played a Cuban army team to a 3–3 tie in a polo match. Also featured in the event were color guards as well as drum and bugle corps.
August 17, 1938 a jitterbug concert held at Soldier Field resulted in the so-called 'Jitterbug Riot' after crowds of about 200,000 overwhelmed the event's organizers. Performers at the event included Jimmy Dorsey, Earl Hines, Shep Fields. It featured a battle of the bands with 50 amateur bands and a number of the city's leading dance orchestras.
The 1938 Chicagoland Music Festival is credited to have originated the tradition of lighting matches or lighters concerts. Among those singing was aviator Douglas Corrigan.
In 1938 about 1,000 Police and Firemen participated in an event which raised funds for the benevolent funds of both groups.
In 1938 Soldier Field again held national softball championships for both men and women.
About 50,000 attended the 1939 Easter sunrise service held at Soldier Field.
June 18, 20, 22, 24 and 25 the American Automobile Association held the World's Championship Midget Automobile Races on a wooden track erected in Soldier Field. Proceeds benefited the Hospital for Crippled Children's Chicago Unit. There was a $10,000 purse for the five-race series. Over 90,000 spectators attended the event. This was the second time that midget racing was held at Soldier Field. Sam Hanks won the first two races, and Ronnie Householder ultimately won Soldier Field's 1939 midget racing championship.
In 1939 the Chicago Rugby Club played two games at Soldier Field. The first game was against a Hollywood club. The second game was against a New York-East Coast all-star squad featuring high-level athletes. Chicago won the second game 24-9 and advanced to a Los Angeles game against the Hollywood Lighthorse Lancers for the national amateur rugby championship. The second game was attended by a crowd of 10,000 and was held on November 12.
March 24 the 1940 Easter sunrise service was held during one of the coldest Easters on record in Chicago. The temperature hardly reached the double-digits by the beginning of the service.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking at Soldier Field
In June 50,000 spectators attended a national Sokol slet held at Soldier Field.
June 16 Orson Welles hosted a radio show at Soldier Field to benefit the Fifth War Loan Drive.
In September 1944 the Ringling Brothers Circus performed a 14-day engagement. These were amongst the Circus' first shows after the Hartford Circus Fire in July 1944 (which had resulted in over 165 deaths and 700 injuries). Due to the fire, the performances at Soldier Field were performed in the open-air, rather than under a big top. The final Sunday attracted 14,000 spectators for the matinee performance and 8,000 for the night performance. On Labor Day 9,000 attended the afternoon performance. The Circus' final performance (which occurred on a Monday night) was attended by 4,500. Excluding additional numbers that attended a 'Bond Night', the Circus attracted 145,000 despite unfavorable weather that occurred most of the opening week.
In 1947 the Chicago Bears' annual Armed Forces Game was held at Soldier Field for the first time. The Bears'opponent was the Washington Redskins. Chicago won the game 28-0. The Armed Forces Game raised proceeds for the relief funds of the four branches of the US Armed Services, and was held annually from 1943 through 1970 (and was held at the Bears' home stadium, Wrigley Field, for a number of those years).
June 19 President Truman spoke at the convention of the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners) marking the group's 75th anniversary. This event was one of the first at Soldier Field to be televised. The event featured one of the largest parades in Chicago's history. The parade preceding the event at Soldier Field featured over 15,000 Shriners from 1,000 American and Canadian chapters of the group and 130 bands. The parade covered three miles and lasted five-hours. The parade was seen by approximately 500,000 spectators. Hollywood legend Harold Lloyd walked in the parade, and at the end of the convention held at Soldier Field he was named "Imperial Potentate", the national leader of the group.
October 28 11,249 spectators saw the Chicago Hornets, who were formerly known as the Chicago Rockets, lost 14-24 to the Los Angeles Dons in what would ultimately be the Hornets' final last-ever home game
June 25 a mere 5,026 spectators attended motor racing events held at Soldier Field. This was unusual, as racing events held at Soldier Field around this time would often attract over twenty-thousand spectators. The races were popular amongst families. Nearly twenty-years after the last race was held at Soldier Field, during his tenure as the head of True Value Hardware, Dan Cotter commented on the origin of his motorsports fandom, telling a Chicago Sun-Times reporter, "Dad took me to the midget races at Soldier Field when I was eleven. I was hooked."
September 8 what many regard to have been Soldier Field's largest crowd ever, 260,000 spectators, attended the Marian Year tribute of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. 180,000 were inside of the stadium, while another 80,000 gathered outside of the stadium and listened via loudspeakers. The event was led by Cardinal Samuel Stritch.
July 13 former President of the United States Harry S. Truman again spoke at another Shriners convention held at Soldier Field. The event was dubbed "Shrinerama" and was attended by more than 58,000 spectators. In addition to a speech from Truman, other notable facets of the event include a band of 1,500 Shriner musicians, a performance from a 1,000-voice choir, circus acts, military drills, and a mock rematch between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney (who had both famously faced-off for the heavyweight title at Soldier Field in the 1927 Long Count Fight). The event concluded with a fireworks display.
Among the 8,000 performers at the 1956 Chicagoland Music Festival were Al G. Wright, Richard Tucker, the Skokie American Indians drum and bugle corps (the national champions). Special guests at the included Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. A men's and a women's singing contest were held at the event, the winners performing on the Ed Sullivan Show the following night. The competition was judged by Rosa Raisa, Sonia Sharnova, and Louis Sudler. This was the final edition of the Chicagoland Music Festival.
Leo defeated Calumet 12–0 in the 1956 Prep Bowl. Jim Arneberg, who was a star lineman for the 1941 and 1942 Leo teams coached the Leo Lions in this Prep Bowl, becoming the first person to both play and coach in the Prep Bowl.
June 15 Soldier Field hosted a 50-lap NASCAR Grand National race. While considered to be a Grand National event at the time it was held, the event does not currently appear on NASCAR's lists of Grand National events held that year. The event was won by Bill Brown
Soldier Field hosted the 1960 Western Golden Gloves. Muhammad Ali fought in this event, and received the Outstanding Fighter trophy for his weight class.
93,000 spectators attended two performances of the Police show, headlined by Jack Paar. Other performers included Wimpy the Clown, an acrobat named Bettina, and Trans-World Airdevils auto stunts. Stanley R. Sarbaneck, president of the benevolent association, spoke at the event.
Mount Carmel, coached by Tom Carey (the older brother of their quarterback Tony), defeated Taft 27–8 in the 1960 Prep Bowl. Tom Carey became one of the first individuals to both play and coach in a Prep Bowl, having won it as a quarterback exactly ten years earlier. Jim Arneberg, who was a star lineman for the 1941 and 1942 Leo teams, had previously coached the Leo Lions to a 12-0 victory over their neighborhood rival Calumet in the 1956 Prep Bowl
July 28 18,000 spectators attended double-header soccer matches at Soldier Field. The first match was between a Chicago all-star team and the US national amateur champion Saint Louis Kutis. The Chicago all-stars won with a surprising score of 6-0. This game was followed by a benefit game for March of Dimes pinning Vienna's Rapid team against the Español of Barcelona. Vienna won 5-4.
June 17 116,000 spectators attended a Billy Graham crusade at Soldier Field. This event followed nineteen days of crussades that Graham had held at the nearby McCormick Place convention center. Those events averaged 37,000 spectators a day (the opening speech alone was attended by 33,000).
The America FC of Rio de Janeiro defeated the Palmero of Italy 3-2 in a match held at Soldier Field. This was one of several International Soccer League matches that were held at Soldier Field in 1962, which altogether attracted a total of 50,000 spectators.
91,328 people saw Fenwick defeat Schurz 40–0 in the 1962 Prep Bowl. This ended a 10-0 season for the Fenwick Friars (in which they outscored their opponents 317-32). In the Prep Bowl game, Fenwick's Jim DiLullo ran for 224 yards and scored five touchdowns on just 12 carries. This was the third most-attended Prep Bowl to date.
An invitational soccer tournament was held at Soldier Field. The tourmament was promoted by local amateur teams, and also featured three international matches. The event culminated in a team from Liverpool winning the Governor Otto Kerner Trophy.
A crowd of 10,000 (including 7,000 UIC Students) saw the UIC Chikas defeat the Milwaukee Panthers 20-6 in their homecoming game at Soldier Field. The game was preceded by a parade from the University's new campus (near the Circle Interchange) to Soldier Field. The teams' homecoming festivities also included a concert at the Medinah Temple attended by over 1,000 students the night prior to the game, and a post-game dance which entertainment by such acts as The Cryan' Shames and Josh White.
August 27 a Democratic Party rally was scheduled to be held at Soldier Field. The Democratic Party had rented out Soldier Field for the entire week of the 1968 Democratic National Convention held at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago. Despite deciding against seeking reelection, incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson had planned on attended the rally, which would have also have doubled as a birthday party for him. Instead, due to riots surrounding the convention, all regular Democratic Party rallies were cancelled, and the President did not leave the White House to attend the convention.
In 1969 the Flame of Hope was again lit as Soldier Field hosted the inaugural edition of the annual Special Olympics Chicago. The Special Olympics Chicago have been held with Soldier Field as its main venue since, with the exception of 2002.
In 1974 the North End of Soldier Field (the end that was cut off from the main stadium by the northern end zone seats installed during the renovations completed following the arrival of the Chicago Bears) hosted the 1974 International Festival of Tennis. Notable-figures that competed in the tournament include, among others, Lloyd Bridges, Raúl Ramírez, Grant Golden, Stan Smith, Marty Riessen, Roscoe Tanner, Billy Martin. Bud Collins called the mini-stadium at the north end of Soldier Field the best venue in the nation for events such as the Davis Cup to be held in the future. Grant Golden lauded the venue saying "This stadium at the north end of Soldier Field is the best in the world, and I've played 'em all," and added "We can seat 20,000 and there isn't a bad seat in the house." Additionally, national reporters named Soldier Field's courts as the best in the country. The attendance was not as high as expected, with only 20,000 people attending the nearly week-long tournament, but the event was declared a success in many other respects. Over 4,400 spectators attended the final, in which Stan Smith defeated Marty Riessen. Among those spectators that attended events during tournament were Butch Buchholz, Janet Young, Kim Warwick, Graham Stilwell, and Sue Eastman.
In 1975 the North Field of Soldier Field again held the International Festival of Tennis. Amongst the participants were Billy Martin and Roscoe Tanner (who won the tournament with a $9,000 purse). The attendance was even less than the previous year. Only 2,000 people attending the quarter finals (while at the same time 5,000 spectators watched a Chicago Sting game that was taking place in the South End of Soldier Field).
The Emmet Kelly Jr. Circus, organized by Chicago Park District superintendent Edmund Kelly, performed in Soldier Field's north end for several nights beginning on June 14. Its headlining performer was Emmet Kelly Jr. playing the circus clown made famous by Emmet Kelly Sr., Wearie Willie.
July 23 52,095 saw the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Chicago All-Stars in what would be the final Chicago College All-Star Game. The game was called late with 1:22 left in the third quarter due to heavy rain. Despite featuring stars such as Chuck Muncie, Mike Pruitt, Lee Roy Selmon, and Jackie Slater, the all-stars were hopelessly outmatched by the Pittsburgh Steelers, winners of Super Bowl X. The star quarterback for the College All-Stars was Steeler draft pick Mike Kruczek, out of Boston College. Late in the third quarter, with the Steelers leading 24–0, high winds prompted all-star coach Ara Parseghian to call time out. Fans began pouring out onto the field and sliding on the turf. With the rain getting harder, the officials ordered both teams to their locker rooms. All attempts to clear the field failed; the fans even tore down the goalposts. However, by this time the rain had become so heavy as to make the field unplayable even if order had been restored. Finally, at 11:01 pm NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and the Tribune announced that the game had been called. The news was greeted with jeers, and numerous brawls broke out on the flooded field before order was finally restored. Joe Washington of Oklahoma was selected MVP of this final College All-Star game. Chicago Tribune Charities had every intention of staging a 1977 game. However, with coaches increasingly unwilling to let their high draft picks play and insurance costs on the rise due to higher player salaries, the Tribune announced on December 21, 1976, that the game would be discontinued. Serving as the coach of the All-Stars was also the final coaching experience of Ara Parseghian.
November 23 Jerry Markbreit began what would be a 23-season career as an NFL referee (during which he would become one of the league's most recognizable referees) when he refereed a game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. In the second quarter of the game, Bears quarterback Jim McMahon was intercepted, and as he watched the proceedings downfield, Packers defensive end Charles Martin picked up McMahon and bodyslammed him shoulder-first into the AstroTurf. Martin remained hovered over an injured McMahon on one knee and taunted him until Bears offensive tackle Jimbo Covert barreled full-speed into Martin. Despite strenuous protests from Packers coach Forrest Gregg, Markbreit ejected Martin, Markbreit's first ejection as an NFL official. When describing the penalty, Markbreit stated that Martin "stuffed" McMahon into the ground. Martin was suspended for two games by NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, the longest suspension for an on-field incident until Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was suspended five games by commissioner Roger Goodell for stomping on the face of Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode during an October 1, 2006 game During the game, Martin wore a "hit list" towel with the numbers of several Bears listed, including those of McMahon, running back Walter Payton, wide receiver Willie Gault, and center Jay Hilgenberg. The call was largely credited by the media and NFL executives in helping Markbreit land the assignment as the referee of Super Bowl XXI two months later.
During the annual Special Olympics Chicago in 1988, the Keith Magnuson Spirit Award was presented for the first time. The Spirit Award is presented annually to a team which models the Special Olympics mission by "encouraging physical fitness, demonstrating courage, experiencing joy, and participating in the sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, community, and other Special Olympic athletes throughout the calendar year".
July 17, 1994, preceding the opening match (also held at Soldier Field), the stadium hosted the opening ceremonies of the 1994FIFAWorld Cup. The temperature was hot, at 97° Fahrenheit, at the beginning of the ceremonies, but dropped down to a cooler 83° by the start of the opening match. The event featured Oprah Winfrey, Diana Ross, Daryl Hall, Jon Secada, Richard Marx, President Bill Clinton, Mayor of ChicagoRichard M. Daley, World Cup chairman and CEOAlan Rothenberg, 1,500 local high-school students, a 300-person children's choir, and two-thousand volunteer dancers. Portions of the performance included music and folk dancers from the 24 nations that were competing in the World Cup. Over 750 million viewers worldwide watched the ceremony on television.
July 20–22 Bassmaster Classic weigh-ins were held at Soldier Field. The boats used in the competition were docked nearby at Burnham Harbor. The competition took place within the Chicago-area in Lake Michigan and its connected waterways. The Bassmaster Classic is a major fishing competition, sometimes dubbed to be the "Superbowl of Fishing". Live coverage of the event was streamed online. This was the 30th edition of the competition. 45 competitors participated in the competition At the end of the competition, a closing ceremony was held at Soldier Field with performances (including Grammy-winning singer Trisha Yearwood) and fireworks. Competitor, and 1999 champion, Davy Hite, failed to defend his title in the 2000 edition. The winner of the competition was Woo Daves, who, at 54, became the oldest person to win a Bassmaster Classic title. It was Daves' 15th time competing in the Classic. Daves received a $100,000 prize. In descending order, the top six finishers were Woo Daves (Spring Grove, Virginia), Mark Rizk (Antelope, California), Shaw Grigsby Jr. (Gainesville, Florida), Rick Clunn (Ava, Missouri), Kotaro Kiriyama (Tokyo, Japan), and Norio Tanabe (Tokyo, Japan). This was the 27th consecutive (and overall) Classic that third-place finisher Rick Clunn had competed in. It was Kevin VanDam's 10th consecutive Classic, with VanDam then having managed to make the Classic every season of his ten-years in B.A.S.S. competition. This was also the Larry Nixon's 22nd, Gary Klein's 19th, Georg Cohcharn's 18th, and Ron Sheffield's 12th total Classic. The 2000 edition was considered to be one of the most challenging editions of the Bassmaster Classic. Chicago was the third northern location to host the event, with Alexandria Bay, New York City (Saint Lawrence River) and Cincinnati (Ohio River) having previously hosted the 1980 and 1983 editions, respectively.
September 9 Soldier Field hosted 2001 Women's U.S. Cup. These matches were preceded by an opening match at Schwaben Field in the Chicago suburb of Buffalo Grove two days prior. The second game played at Soldier Field was the third and the final game played in the tournament, as the tournament's additional matches were cancelled following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which occurred while the tournament was still in its round-robin phase.
The 2007 edition of the annual Special Olympics Chicago featured an opening ceremony with a performance by the Jesse White Tumbling Team and a speech from Special Olympics Illinois CEO Doug Snyder. The Keith Magnuson Spirit Award was presented by Keith's son Kevin Magnuson to the D.S. Wentworth School, largely due to the efforts of their lead coach Ophelia Doyle who accepted the award for the school's team.
August 26, at the halftime of a high school football game at Soldier Field Fenwick and Hubbard at Soldier Field, Johnny Lattner's #34 jersey was retired by Fenwick. Lattner played for Fenwick when he was in high school, and would later go on to play football collegiately (where he would win the 1953 Heisman Trophy) and professionally. This was the first time Fenwick had ever retired a number.
May 30 4,300 spectators were in attendance as Soldier Field played host to its first lacrosse match. For their season-opener the Major League Lacrosse's Chicago Machine faced the Boston Cannons at Soldier Field. The Cannons defeated the Machine 16-14. This was the first professional lacrosse match ever played within the city limits of Chicago, as all previous Chicago Machine games had been played in suburban locations.
September 12 and 13 U2 kicked off the second leg of their 360° Tour with to sold-out concerts, with Snow Patrol and Interpol, attended by a cumulative 135,872 concertgoers. These concerts opened up U2's 360° Tour in North America. One of the dates set Soldier Field's post-renovation attendance record at the time, with 67,936 spectators.
September 15 Soldier Field hosted the 2009 Medal of Honor Convention.
Soldier Field during the 2012 Chicago Summit with Coast Guard boats stationed at nearby Burnham Harbor
May 2012, United States President Barack Obama held a NATO summit (the 2012 Chicago Summit) at Soldier Field. Chicago was also supposed to host the 38th G8 summit just prior to the NATO summit, but on May 5, 2010, the White House announced a last-minute venue change for the G8 Summit. The G8 Summit was instead held at Camp David.
July 1 28,000 attended a viewing party of the broadcast 2014 World Cup Round of 16 game between the United States and Belgium. In attendance at this viewing party was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
February 5 the organizers of the 2015 Coyote Logistics Hockey City Classic launched a 12-day winter festival at Soldier Field with a Unite on the Ice event benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The event included a celebrity hockey game with former NHL and AHL players, as well as a public free skate at Soldier Field. Participants in the celebrity game included Éric Dazé, Jamal Mayers and Gino Cavallini. Denis Savard was in attendance, serving as an 'honorary coach' during the game.
November 28 Soldier Field hosted the annual Land of Lincoln Trophy rivalry game between Northwestern and Illinois. This was the first time in the 123-year rivalry between the two school's that they have ever met at Soldier Field, and the third time that they played one another in Chicago (the previous two times being at Wrigley Field in 1923 and in 2010). Northwestern won the game 24-14.
In June, Soldier Field hosted matches of the Copa América Centenario. This was the 100th anniversary edition of the Copa América, and the first time it had been held outside of South America. The Copa América is the oldest continental football competition and is one of the most prestigious and most widely viewed sporting events in the world.
November 5 the New Zealand All Blacks faced Ireland in Soldier Field's third-ever international rugby match. This was the first time the two teams have faced one another in the United States. Ireland won the match 40-29, marking the first time they have ever defeated the All Blacks in International Test rugby. This game was part of "The Rugby Weekend", which also featured a game between the US Eagles and the Maori All Blacks at Toyota Park one day earlier. The Maori All Blacks won the match 52-7.
^"Police Games to Open New Chicago Stadium". Chicago Daily Tribune. September 5, 1924.
^"Chicago Police Field Day". Sullivan's Englewood Times. Chicago. August 8, 1924.
^"1,200 March to Dedicate Stadium". Chicago American. September 6, 1924.
^Eckersall, Walter (September 6, 1924). "Traffic Cop Wins First Police Event". Chicago Daily Tribune.
^"South Side Business Men to Attend Song Fest in New Stadium". Chicago Daily Tribune. Chicago: Chicago Trbiune. September 10, 1924.
^Citation|South Park Commissioners, memorandum (unlabeled) on the "first free use" of the stadium, n.d. (1924), Soldier Field Collection, Special Collections, Chicago Park District Headquarters; speeches folder
^"Elephants in Parade of Greatest 13 Ring Circus". Chicago Daily Tribune. September 21, 1924.
^"Ogden Park Activities". Englewood Times. Chicago. September 19, 1924.
^"30,000 Voices to Dedicate Stadium in Song Pageant". Chicago Daily Tribune. September 10, 1924.
^"50,000 Expected at Huge Civic Pageant". Chicago Defender (national edition). September 10, 1924.
^ ab"Willie Ritola, 86, Track Star; Won 5 Olympic Gold Medals". New York Times. April 28, 1982.
^ ab"Finns Refuse to Discuss Charges on Visit Here". Chicago Daily Tibune. May 8, 1925.
^Guffman, Allen (2002). The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. pp. 39–42, 47–51.
^South Park Commissioners, "Record of Uses, Soldier Field Stadium 1924–1931" ca. 1931; Soldier Field collection, Chicago Park District Headquarters
^"Women Champions to Enter Finnish Cames". Chicago Daily News. Chicago. May 18, 1925.
^Krum, Fayette (September 26, 1924). "Brilliant Field of Girls in Track Meet". Chicago Daily News.
^"Myyra Smashes Javelin Record at Finn Games". Chicago Daily Tribune. June 1, 1925.
^"Stanford Wins National Collegiate Title: DeHart Hubbard Sets New World's Record in Broad Jump Event; Michigan Second to Cardinals; California Athletes Finish Ihird; Hartranft Breaks Collegiate Shot Put Mark". Oakland Tribune. June 14, 1925.
^"Hubbard, Michigan's Negro Athlete, Breaks Broad Jump Record: Experts Say Mark to Stand for All Time; Crowd Thrilled as He Leaps for Almost 26 Feet in College Meet; Shotput Mark Falls; Lanky Texas University Runner Sets New College Mark for the Mile". Davenport Democrat and Leader. June 14, 1925.
^Simonds, William A. (1949). "Honolulu: American Factors". Kamaaina, a Century in Hawaii. p. 80.
^Fraser, Chelsea Curtis (1942). Famous American Flyers. New York: Crowell. pp. 106–122.
^Fraser, Chelsea Curtis (1980). Famous American Flyers (reprint). New York: Arno Press. pp. 106–122.
^"Five Men aboard Trans-Ocean Plane Now Thought Lost". Middleton Daily Herald. Middleton, New York. United Press (wire service). September 2, 1925.
^Rodgers, John A. (September 12, 1925). "Plane Chief Tells Story of Hardship". Helena Independent. Associated Press (wire service).
^"Fear Naval Plane Lost at Sea". Middleton Daily Herald. Middleton, New York. United Press (wire service). September 2, 1925.
^"City Renews Pledge to Hero Dead: 10,000 Take Part in Dedication Rite". Chicago Daily News. November 11, 1925.
^"Gen. Harbord Sees Peril in Volstead Law". Chicago Daily Tribune. November 12, 1925.
^Wayne S. Cole, America First: The Battle against Intervention, 1940–41 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1953), pg. 21
^Dunkley, Charles (November 15, 1937). "High School Grid Star Amazes Fans". Reno Evening Gazette. Reno, Nevada. Associated Press.
^"Bill de Correvont Holds the Spotlight in Chicago Game". Stevens Point Daily Journal. Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Associated Press. November 27, 1937. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |(empty string)= (help)
^"Austin All Set to Bring Foot Ball Title Here". Garfieldian. November 25, 1937.
^Segreti, James (December 12, 1937). "DeCorrevont Injured After Score". The Chicago Daily Tribune.
^"Austin Star Hurt as Team Wins". The New York Times. December 12, 1937.
^Northwestern University Archives, William DeCorrevont Papers. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
^"Club Info". norgeskiclub.com. Norge Ski Club. Retrieved February 26, 2016. ... the oldest, continuously open ski club in the United States ... The club was started in 1905 ... Another big event was when the Norge Ski Club rented out Soldier Field in Chicago and built a huge scaffolding for a jump event. They used crushed ice instead of snow to jump from and land on. It must have been exciting to jump from this tower at Soldier Field.
^ ab"Soldier Field". skisorungschanzen.com. Ski Jumping Hills Archive. Retrieved February 26, 2016. Soldier Field Jump:K-Point: 50 mYear of construction: 1937Conversions:1954Further jumps: noStatus: destroyedPlastic matting: noSki club: Norge Ski Club
^Butler, Roland. "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Route Book, 1944: The Show Goes On". circushistory.org. Retrieved July 30, 2015. managed to get the circus back on the road in less than a month after the fire and carry on without its big top by giving open air performances in Akron's Rubber Bowl, the U. D. Stadium in Detroit, Chicago's mammoth Soldier Field
^Gentry, Guy (October 28, 1944). "700,000 Tickets Out for F.D.R. Rally Tonight". Chicago Daily Tribune.
^"Record Crowd Hears President Give Peace Program". Chicago Defender. November 4, 1944.
^"Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, "Campaign Address at Soldier Field, Chicago" October 28, 1944". Associated Press.
^Edwards, Willard (October 29, 1944). "F.D.R. Promises New Deal No. 2; Dewey Hits at War 'Credit' Claim". Chicago Daily Tribune.
^"Intercollegiate Football at the University of Illinois at Chicago An Online Exhibit PART II: Navy Pier and Circle Campus, 1950-1973". University of Illinois at Chicago. Retrieved February 2, 2016. A Chicago Illini reporter proclaimed that, the university put on a Homecoming "worthy of the acclaim of any Big Ten school ... The bonfire was staged in the athletic field by the Dan Ryan expressway while the mixer was held in the parking lot across from Hull-House ... Friday night saw the Homecoming concert at Medinah Temple, a far cry from the Illinois Room. The concert ... was attended by over 1,000 students. On Saturday, a parade from the University to Soldier Field preceded the main event, the football game between the Chikas and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee." The team beat UW Milwaukee 20 to 6 before a crowd estimated at 10,000, of which 7,000 were UIC students. Following the game, students attended a dance in which they were entertained by the Cryan' Shames and blues singer Josh White.