New Chicago Bears Stadium

Capacity65 000
Country United States of America
ClubsChicago Bears
CategoryDesign awaiting implementation
Cost$3.225 B
Design Manica Architecture


New Chicago Bears Stadium – design description

Why do the Chicago Bears want to build a new stadium?

The trend of building extremely expensive, ultra-modern stadiums for teams playing in the NFL began in the 21st century. Some of the leading examples of this trend are SoFi Stadium and Allegiant Stadium, which opened in 2020. An almost inseparable element of the new generation of stadiums is a roof covering both the stands and the field (either fixed or retractable).

One of the NFL teams with high infrastructural ambitions is the Chicago Bears. The Bears have played at Soldier Field, located near downtown Chicago on the Lake Michigan waterfront, since 1971. The facility opened in 1924 and underwent a complete reconstruction between 2002 and 2003, making it one of the most modern in the competition at the time.

Over time, however, Soldier Field began to give way to other facilities. The stadium has no roof, and with a capacity of 61,500 spectators, it is currently the smallest in the NFL. It should also be added that Chicago, the third largest metropolitan area in the United States, has never hosted a Super Bowl. To change this facts, a major upgrade of Soldier Field or the construction of a new stadium is needed.

With this in mind, the Bears began thinking about building a new stadium even before Soldier Field was paid off and well before the end of its lease (the contract expires in 2033).

What concepts have emerged regarding plans to build a new stadium for the Chicago Bears?

Where did the Chicago Bears initially plan to build a new stadium?

In 2021, the Bears showed interest in buying a horse racing track in Arlington Heights (a far suburb of Chicago, about 25 mi (40 km) from the center of the metropolitan area), where they intended to build a new stadium. The agreement was signed on September 21, 2021 (the purchase was finalized in early 2023, and the price the Bears paid was $197.2 million).

Could an alternative to building a new stadium have been to upgrade Soldier Field?

In response to the Bears' plans to move to a distant suburb, then-Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot on July 25, 2022 unveiled plans to redevelop Soldier Field, which would have prompted the team to stay in its current location. Three options were presented. The most spectacular one (and the most expensive – it was estimated to cost $2.2 billion to complete) called for covering the facility with a huge glass roof that would rest on four columns.

The Chicago Bears, however, remained committed to their plans to move out to Arlington Heights. On September 6, 2022, shortly after the presentation of plans for the redevelopment of Soldier Field, a preliminary concept for the development of an area around the Arlington Heights horse racing track was presented, with the stadium as the main element (in addition, an entire residential and entertainment complex was to be built there).

In January 2023, Kevin Warren, known for the key role he played for the construction of U.S. Bank Stadium during his time with the Minnesota Vikings, was elected president and CEO of the Chicago Bears. Warren's priority is to bring a new stadium to the Bears.

When were new locations started to be considered for a stadium for the Chicago Bears?

In mid-2023, the Bears began sending signals that the option of building a stadium in Arlington Heights was not yet a foregone conclusion. The team was not satisfied with the amount of property taxes, and negotiations on the issue were not yielding satisfactory results. Mayors of other suburbs began approaching the team, offering to help build a new stadium in their area.

The Bears began looking at various options. At the end of 2023, it was reported that one of them was a site adjacent to Soldier Field, where a new stadium would be built. Since early 2024, there have been further reports confirming this location as preferred by the team.

When was the concept of building a new stadium next to Soldier Field presented?

On April 24, 2024, the day before the NFL draft, a press conference was held at Soldier Field to officially unveil the concept for a new stadium for the Chicago Bears. The concept was developed by Manica Architecture, one of the leading architecture companies in sports facility design.

Where is the new Chicago Bears stadium to be built?

As previously rumored, the facility is to stand right next to Soldier Field, on a plot of land adjacent to the south, on the site of the existing parking lot (known as the Waldron Deck). Although the old stadium is to be demolished, its 100-year tradition will continue, and the Bears will remain virtually where they have played for more than 50 years.

What will the new Chicago Bears stadium be like?

The building will be given an oval, dynamic shape, and the facade will feature elements of glass, metal panels, ceramics and wood. An essential enrichment is a large opening in the façade (“window”) behind the north endzone, positioned in such a way that from inside the stadium the skyline of downtown Chicago, with its multiple skyscrapers, can be observed.

One of the facility's greatest assets is to be a fixed roof covering both the stands and the field. The large central section of the canopy will be made of translucent ETFE material. A similar roof design is in place at Allegiant Stadium, and another structure with matching features will be built at the new Tennessee Titans stadium.

The concept presents an interesting detail placed on the surface of the roof – its central, transparent part will be surrounded by a huge letter C (a recognizable logo associated with the Bears brand), visible from the air. The exterior wall, meanwhile, is enhanced by a panoramic terrace with views of the city and Lake Michigan.

The facility is intended to reflect the modernity and spirit of Chicago, while manifesting features that harmonize with the neoclassical architecture of the buildings of the neighboring Museum Campus.

The stands will be divided into several levels and will accommodate more than 65,000 spectators. Their layout will be eminently football-specific, although it will still be possible to install a soccer field. Fans will be able to enjoy various premium options. The interior of the facility will feature large screens, as well as lighting or sound systems.

What role is the new Chicago Bears stadium expected to serve?

The facility will be dedicated primarily to the NFL team, the Chicago Bears, but due to the relatively small number of games per season, the stadium is expected to host many other sports and cultural events. It is possible that in addition to the Bears, it will also regularly host soccer games of the MLS team, the Chicago Fire.

State-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment, full roofing, as well as the size and location of the arena are expected to make the facility a globally recognized sports and entertainment center. The stadium will be suitable for hosting high-profile sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, as well as concerts by world-famous artists.

What name will the new Chicago Bears stadium bear?

For the time being, it is not known what the name of the future stadium will be. The plan is to get a title sponsor and agree with him on a commercial name for the facility.

What will happen to Soldier Field after the new Chicago Bears stadium opens?

After the new stadium opens, Soldier Field is expected to be demolished. Its place will be taken by athletic fields and public park areas adjacent to the new arena. Only the historic exterior walls and colonnades (still dedicated to the men and women of the armed services) will be left from the old stadium, and the site layout will be reminiscent of the stadium's original shape (the letter “U”).

What are the construction costs of the new Chicago Bears stadium?

How much money is needed for the new Chicago Bears stadium project?

The cost of building a new stadium for the Bears was estimated at $3.225 billion. In relative terms, this is slightly less than what it took to build SoFi Stadium ($3.4 billion), by far the most expensive stadium in the world to date. The cost of necessary infrastructure investment was estimated at a further $325 million, so a minimum of $3.55 billion is needed for the project.

How much money is needed for additional infrastructure projects around the new Chicago Bears stadium?

In addition to the construction of the stadium (Phase I), the plan calls for two more phases of investment to further improve transportation infrastructure, arrange space around the stadium, create new recreational areas and commercial facilities as well as a variety of attractions.

These investments are expected to cost nearly $1.2 billion ($510 million for Phase II and $665 million for Phase III). Their implementation is not necessary, although highly anticipated. In total, therefore, the entire project is expected to consume more than $4.7 billion.

Where is the money to build the new Chicago Bears stadium expected to come from?

How will Phase I of the project (stadium construction) be financed?

The Bears plan to spend $2.025 billion on the investment, an unprecedented private contribution given that the new stadium is to be publicly owned and would belong, like Soldier Field now, to the Chicago Park District (although the Bears, as tenants, are to profit from the operating of the facility). Another $300 million is to come from a loan from the NFL, bringing the total private equity stake to $2.325 billion.

The rest of the money is to be raised from public funds. The amount missing for Phase I of the development (without additional infrastructure projects) is $900 million. The money is to be raised by extending for a period of 40 years the existing Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA) bonds, for which 2% of the Illinois hotel tax is used for repayment.

Obtaining $900 million in public funds, therefore, does not require any additional, extraordinary expenditures, only a continuation of existing ones.

ISFA bonds were issued in 1989 for $150 million to finance the construction of a new baseball stadium for the MLB team, the Chicago White Sox. Another $400 million bonds were issued in 2001, this time in connection with the redevelopment of Soldier Field. Since these debts have not yet been completely paid off, the plan is to restructure them and spread them over a longer period (40 years).

Extending the bonds will also create a financial reserve in case the money from the hotel tax is not enough to cover the current obligations.

How is it planned to finance the implementation of Phase II and III investments (additional infrastructure projects)?

Nearly $1.2 billion is needed to implement additional infrastructure projects (Phase II and Phase III). Raising funds for these tasks is to be negotiated with the authorities of Chicago and the state of Illinois. While the city authorities are very much in favor of the project (Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is an ardent supporter of the stadium's construction), Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker has spoken rather skeptically about it.

What impact will the construction of the new Chicago Bears stadium have on the local economy?

It is estimated that the investment will pump as much as $8.4 billion into the local economy and create 43,000 jobs during construction and 4,200 permanent jobs once the stadium opens.

When will the new Chicago Bears stadium be built?

The project is expected to take three years to complete (five years along with additional infrastructure projects). The Bears are targeting the start of work in the summer of 2025 and the opening of the stadium in the summer of 2028. It is noted that due to rising inflation and the price of construction services and materials, each year of delay in the start of construction could increase costs by an additional $150-200 million.

What obstacles could stand in the way of a new Chicago Bears stadium?

The Bears may have trouble getting public funding and completing a budget for the project. Another major obstacle to the construction of a new stadium next to Soldier Field could be opponents of major encroachments in the area. In 2016, the local organization Friends of the Park successfully thwarted plans by famous filmmaker George Lucas to build a museum of narrative art at the site.



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