What's so bad about Soldier Field? 5 things to know


The Chicago Bears will likely break their lease with Soldier Field to move into a new stadium they plan to build in Arlington Heights. The city will host an informational community meeting on Thursday, Sept. 8 to kickstart the planning.

Why do the Bears want to leave Soldier Field in downtown Chicago? Here are five reasons why Soldier Field is not a good stadium.

The Grass

Soldier Field's grass, managed by the Chicago Park District and ASM Global, has been notorious for its shoddy conditions since the team's move to Kentucky Bluegrass in 1988. It's received countless comments over the years from players, coaches and fans. 

In recent history, the grass was left in bare-minimum condition for the team's lone preseason game at Soldier Field back in early August. Pictures of the field flooded Twitter, showing the ugly dry patches on the grass. 

Opposing head coach Andy Reid commented on the condition, as did the president of the NFLPA by calling out the NFL for allowing the game to be played amidst the conditions.

RELATED: Soldier Field's grass has a long history of being an obstacle

Ex-Bears kicker Robbie Gould was also known for chastising the field's condition because it made his job harder to kick footballs. 

"This has been the worst the field has been all year," Gould complained to ESPN Radio 1000 back in 2012.  "It was very hopeful in the beginning of preseason, but this year for some reason it's been a lot softer than it has in years past."

The new stadium in Arlington Heights will likely have synthetic turf or a different management company to uphold the grass conditions. 

The Size

Soldier Field is the smallest stadium in the NFL, making it unattractive in several ways. The stadium can hold 61,500 fans for games. That number is nearly 2,000 seats lower than the second-smallest stadium. 

This puts a strain on the Bears' ticket sales. They sell out nearly every home game because of the capacity. With limited seat capacity, they're limiting themselves to the profits they can make from the games. 

The Arlington Heights stadium will likely compete with the capacities of the largest stadiums in the NFL. MetLife Stadium, Lambeau Field and AT&T Stadium are the three largest stadiums in the NFL, each holding over 80,000 people. Expect Arlington Heights to host a similar number of fans. 

With more seating under their roof, the Bears will be able to maximize their profits and fan experience. 


The Bears are in a rut for profitability. Their potential to profit is limited because of their stadium deal. The Bears have a lease agreement to rent Soldier Field from the city of Chicago through 2033. 

The organization cannot maximize its profits because of its lease. The city takes a chunk of the team's revenue for anything related to the stadium.

Since the city owns the land Soldier Field rests on, the team cannot extract the full profits from the parking lot.

The Bears are also one of two teams in the NFL (Bears and Packers) who do not have naming rights to profit from their stadium. The stadium is a tribute to fallen soldiers (hence, "Soldier Field"), leaving the Bears and the city without a naming rights sponsor. In the opposition, the Dallas Cowboys make $25 million per year for naming their stadium "AT&T Stadium."

Any sponsorships the Bears have in ties with the stadium are split with the city. For example, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys inked a 10-year, $200 million with Molson Coors to give the Cowboys outright profitability. But, the Bears can't secure a deal fully guaranteed to them due to their stadium lease. 

No Dome

Soldier Field does not have a dome to block the field from Chicago's harsh winters. This makes the stadium arguably less appealing to play at.

While some fans embrace the cold as "football weather," others are discouraged from attending games because of the brutal temperatures. 

The new stadium in Arlington Heights will be an "enclosed stadium," according to the team. Not only will the dome protect them from the winters, but it will allow the Bears to make the venue a year-round experience, giving the team more chances to monetize. 

The Bears could host concerts, sporting events, festivals, etc. at the stadium as another stream of income. Currently, they wouldn't be able to make money from a domed stadium because the city owns Soldier Field. 


While Soldier Field's iconic lakefront stadium has breathtaking views and undeniable pride for the city of Chicago, it's inconvenient to access.

The nearest CTA stop (Roosevelt) is about a mile from the stadium. Patrons are forced to walk through a maze around Columbus Avenue and the Field Museum campus. The walk itself takes around 25-30 minutes. 

Not to mention, once fans arrive at the stadium, they're forced into a couple of gates on the north side of the stadium. The stadium simply doesn't have enough gates to allow fans in.

On the other hand, for drivers, Lake Shore Drive creates a chaotic mess of traffic. Plus, parking is limited around the field and only available on the south and east sides of the stadium. It provides nightmares for traffic and becomes even worse in the winter months. 

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