As the Bears push toward the possibility of moving to a new stadium in Arlington Heights, Chicago pushes toward the possibility of making their current home more attractive.
Via Sports Business Journala Chicago mayoral committee will recommend that the city consider the feasibility of putting a dome over Soldier Field.
A dome, as reported by Crain’s Chicago Businesscould cost between $400 million and $1.5 billion.
Other possibilities include upgrades to the stadium (including significant rebuilding of certain parts of it) and selling naming rights to generate revenue for improvements.
The Bears have entered into a purchase agreement for land in Arlington Heights, but the deal isn’t expected to close until next year. It’s a long-term play, and it’s ultimately a dance between a team that wants a better venue and a city that doesn’t want to pay for all or most of it.
It’s fundamentally a leverage play, with the Bears using the possibility of building their own stadium as the “or else” if Chicago doesn’t make things significantly better at Soldier Field. There’s also a political angle to this; the powers-that-be in Chicago won’t want to be blamed if the Bears bolt for the suburbs. If Chicago politicians make an offer that the Bears refuse, the politicians can point a finger at the team for not wanting to make things work at Soldier Field.