Chicago wants to show it’s serious about being the next cold city to host an outdoor Super Bowl, and so the city is exploring its options for making Soldier Field bigger.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who strongly supports a Chicago Super Bowl, is working with the Chicago Park District, which operates Soldier Field, to explore the possibility of a 5,000-seat expansion.
“It’s an exploration to see what, if anything, is possible,” Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton told the Chicago Tribune.
Soldier Field currently fits just 61,500 fans for Bears games, and the NFL prefers stadiums with at least 70,000 seats for the Super Bowl. Even a 5,000-seat expansion would make Soldier Field the smallest stadium to host a Super Bowl since 1992, when 63,130 fans attended Super Bowl XXVI at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
And even if Soldier Field’s seating capacity increases, that doesn’t mean the NFL’s owners will vote to take the Super Bowl to Chicago. The league is open to cold-weather Super Bowls, but Chicago has colder, snowier winters than New York, so the weather may be an even greater concern for a Chicago Super Bowl than it was this year.
Still, Emanuel seems serious about attracting a Super Bowl to Chicago. A Soldier Field expansion would be a step toward getting it.