Bears Putting a Dome on Soldier Field Would Be an Extremely Lame Move
The Bears appear to be in the midst of a drawn-out negotiation with the city of Chicago over Soldier Field. It is a classic stadium, but it's also both the smallest and oldest football stadium in the NFL and the last serious renovations were made in 2002. The Bears petitioning the city for funding to renovate is perhaps overdue at this point.
But things aren't going great, as evidenced by suggestions last year that the Bears may consider moving to Arlington Heights in a brand-new joint if the city doesn't pony up to modernize Soldier Field. It feels like an empty threat due to the history of Soldier Field and the fact that Arlington Heights isn't in Chicago proper but we've seen NFL owners do worse things when not given the money they want.
The next posturing move pulled in this battle is by a Chicago mayoral committee that will consider putting a dome on Soldier Field that would cost somewhere between half a billion and over a billion dollars. Per Pro Football Talk:
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.
You can easily see the financial motivation. It's a lot of money for a dome but it means Soldier Field could be used during the cold Chicago winters to further drive revenue in the form of concerts and events. Its presence would further justify dumping money into other renovations to help attract non-football talent.
But man. How lame would that be? Soldier Field's weather is a personality trait of the stadium. The Bears as a franchise have long prided themselves on playing in the cold and wind like few other teams can. Adding a dome would not only tarnish a historic field but also take away a fairly legitimate competitive advantage for the home team.
All that is probably why the Bears would be very reluctant to agree to such a proposal, which is why the city is doing this at all. If the Bears refuse, those in charge can say the team didn't want to meet in the middle and that's why they're threatening to leave. If they agree, everybody would be upset but probably less so than the team moving to a suburb. Chess move after chess move here.
But for all our sakes, let's hope the Bears stay at Soldier Field with no dome. It's too great of a football stadium to do anything else.