Jul 28, 2022 - Sports

Backlash against Soldier Field renovation plans

Rendering of a new football stadium.
Rendering of Soldier Field. Courtesy of Landmark Development

The three ideas to renovate Soldier Field and redevelop the Museum Campus have captured the city's attention.

Why it matters: The plans, released by Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday, were created to keep the Bears and the millions in game-day revenues they generate downtown.

  • But even though the city's plans are grand, concerns remain about aspects of the project and its financing.

What they're saying: "The mayor took the Bears for granted and waited too long," mayoral candidate Willie Wilson tells Axios.

  • "Now she wants to give away the whole kitchen sink."

Other issues facing the redevelopment include:

💰 Naming rights: The city floated naming rights as a way to offset the hefty price tag, but former Governor Pat Quinn is circulating petitions for a ballot measure that would preemptively keep the city from renaming Soldier Field, which was named as a war memorial.

  • If successful, the city would have to turn to other revenue sources, like tax dollars.

🌊 Lakefront parkland: As we saw with the Lucas Museum, nothing new is built on the lakefront without a fight. Friends of the Parks says it was not consulted on the redevelopment plans and told WTTW it is "studying legal options."

  • A drawn-out legal fight could scare the Bears away.

🏗 Competing interests: Bob Dunn and Landmark Development are leading the stadium redesign team, but they are also trying to develop the One Central project across the street from Soldier Field.

What's next: The Bears are on the clock, but they remain under lease at Soldier Field through 2033.

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