Monday, January 9, 2012

Soldier Field: Where the Bears Are

The Chicago Park District owns Soldier Field, and the Bears lease it for their games. The Park District hired SMG, a facility management company, that has run the stadium and cared for the field since 1994 according to the Tribune. The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, a state-city agency known as McPier that owns and operates McCormick Place contracted SMG in 2011 to run its facility for a five-year period. SMG is not without its detractors, but it has a reputation for running a lean operation. Using a company like SMG can take some of the bureaucracy out of operating a big business operation like Soldier Field.

Total Soldier Field rental income to the Chicago Park District was $25,315,000 (for all events not just Bears games) according to the CPD. Park District concession income was $4,170,000. Park District revenues from Soldier Field should increase greatly as some reports state that the Bears lease increases dramatically in the middle of this decade.

The total rebuild of Soldier Field cost $675 Million according to Liam Ford author of Soldier Field: A Stadium and Its City. Make no mistake about it, the Soldier Field that opened in 2003 on the lakefront is a new stadium--very little is left from the previous edifice. Soldier Field was created by Wood + Zapata, Inc., Lohan Caprile Goettsch Architects, and many other architects and project directors. Seating capacity for football is 61,500.

Indoor Option and Ford Field

There were proposals for an indoor stadium dating back about 20 years before the Soldier Field renovation. Much was done to discourage an indoor stadium for Chicago. It seemed that most people involved from various interested parties (media--politicians--fans) wanted an outdoor stadium.

An interesting alternative to the outdoor stadium rebuild of Soldier Field is Ford Field in Detroit. Ford Field is owned by the Detroit/Wayne County Stadium Authority and was completed in 2002. Ford Field used a collection of historic Hudson Department Store warehouse structures and merged them with a modern facility. Ford Field was created by Rossetti architects, SHG, Inc., and Hamilton Anderson Associates. Ford Field features a series of skylight walkways that connect these warehouses. The design also allows for a huge influx of natural light that helps moderate that "indoor" stadium feel. Ford Field cost $500 Million and has a capacity of 65,000.
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Sporting Chance Press is the Publisher of Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey and other fine sports books.

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