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 Journal, a 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 Business, could 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.