Bears need a new stadium, wherever it is
In my perfect Chicago world, there would be no lights at Wrigley Field, the reliever pens would still be in foul territory, and the outside basket would never have existed.
The Bulls and Black Hawks would still play in the old Chicago stadium. The White Sox would still play at old Comiskey Park. The “S” curve would have disappeared – with some regrets – but Riverview would still be standing at Belmont and Western. Maxwell Street is said to be booming. And the city would still own the parking meters.
I love tradition almost as much as I love Chicago. This is why I was fully in favor of the 2002 renovation to Soldier Field which retained the historic colonnades and the existing exterior structure. And I kept the Bears in it. I overlooked the tackiness of a 21st century stadium stuck in early 20th century architecture, as it preserved the tradition of the old Soldier Field.
But that time has passed.
The renovated Soldier Field will do the trick. It’s not obsolete – even the grass isn’t horrible anymore. But the Bears need better. And Chicagoans deserve better. The Bears need a new stadium. A modern stadium. A state-of-the-art stadium. Tradition still matters, but it has become a bigger obstacle than ever to progress – on and off the pitch -. It’s time.
The Bears organization’s recognition on Thursday of an offer for the Arlington International Racecourse site in Arlington Heights – with the obvious intention to build a stadium there – served a purpose, perhaps the main one. : he brought the Bears stadium problem to the fore. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a lot of serious issues on her plate, but she responded to the Bears’ announcement within hours with a statement from her – with a sarcastic bite that rivals Mayor Richard J. Daley’s warning. which the Bears “couldn’t use the name.” Chicago ”when a move to Arlington Heights was proposed in 1975.
Lightfoot not only noted that the Bears are “locked” in their Soldier Field lease until 2033, but also berated the Bears for being more worried about the product in the field. “Like most Bears fans, we want the organization to focus on building a winning team on the pitch, finally beating the Packers and being relevant last October. Everything else is noise.
Noise can be a nuisance to Lightfoot, but it’s important. It allows people to talk and get people’s attention. And I hope it’s up to the city to make the Bears stadium a big deal. Chicago is the city that works, but generally step by step. This is the first step.
The team’s offer for the Arlington Park site takes the idea of a new Bears stadium up a notch from Chimera Stadium. This may be more possible today than it was on Wednesday or a year ago. But it is still unlikely.
But should it happen? Should the Bears move to Arlington Heights if a new stadium can be built there? If the option is currently Soldier Field, the answer is yes. Assuming a new stadium would be a state-of-the-art facility that would attract big events like the Super Bowl and the Final Four, the advantage for the Bears and the Chicago area would be too good to ignore.
I don’t think the Bears are bluffing. If you could wave a magic wand and create a stadium in Arlington Heights, the Bears would go. But the best option would be an SOTA facility in Chicago, preferably near the lake. Sadly, Chicago doesn’t seem equipped to do something this big. Just finding ownership and financing makes it a longer goal than anything that has ever struck Arlington Park. So good luck with that.
But, for me anyway, the Bears playing in an outdoor stadium isn’t the necessity it once was. The covered stadiums were awful. The Astrodome – everyone’s grandfather – was a marvel when it was built, but felt like a real barn. The next generation were convention halls for football.
But the stages of the 21st century have been huge steps towards acceptability. The NRG Stadium in Houston and the Ford Field in Detroit were big improvements. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in 2008 took another step towards an outdoor stadium feel.
But US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis in 2016 was a game-changer. It’s a beautifully designed building outside and inside that sets a new standard for natural light that replicates as much as you would expect the ambiance of an outdoor stadium.
The Bears will see the two new NFL stadiums this season – SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. When they face the Rams on September 12 and Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas when they face the Raiders on October 10.
Bears President George McCaskey and President Ted Phillips figure to be there. And my advice would be to invite the mayor so that they can ask him the all-important question. “If they can build one here, why can’t they build one in Chicago?” ”