Soldier Field in Chicago

Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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Soldier Field
Formerly:Municipal Grant Park Stadium

1410 South Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, Illinois, South Loop 60605
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Quick Facts
Timeline
  • 1919: The South Park Commission (1934 became the Chicago Park District) commissioned Chicago architects Holabird & Roche to design a stadium that would serve as a showcase "for events and a playground for the people."
  • August 11, 1922: Groundbreaking
  • October 4, 1924: Hosted its first high school football game: Louisville Male v. Chicago Austin Community Academy
  • October 9, 1924: Officially opened as Municipal Grant Park Stadium (date coincided with 53rd anniversary of Great Chicago Fire, 1871)
  • November 22, 1924: First collegiate football game: Notre Dame v. Northwestern
  • November 11, 1925: At the request of the Chicago Gold Star Mothers, to honor soldiers of WWI, changed name to Soldier Field
  • June 20-24, 1926: 28th International Eucharistic Congress held three days of events; estimated 500,000 total attended outdoor masses; featured choir of 62,000 Catholic school children 
  • November 27, 1926: Formally dedicated as Soldier Field during the 29th Army-Navy football game with over 100,000 spectators in attendance
  • September 22, 1927: The Long Count Fight, the second heavyweight championship bout between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney held; 104,000 in attendance
  • November 26, 1927: All-time collegiate football attendance record for Notre Dame v. USC game: over 123,000
  • 1937: Prep Bowl game, Austin v. Leo, has largest crowd for high school football game, 115,000 
  • October 28, 1944: President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a campaign address to 150,000
  • 1948: Chicago Park District engineers won an award for their design of a stadium lighting system featuring 5,000 watt flood lights that could be arranged in pre-set patterns
  • September 8, 1954: 260,000 gathered at Soldier Field for a Catholic Marian celebration; largest event crowd
  • 1962: 116,000 in attendance to hear evangelist Billy Graham
  • August 15, 1964: Johnny and June Cash perform as part of long-running Chicagoland Musical Festival
  • July 10, 1966: The Chicago Freedom Movement rally led by Martin Luther King (also Mahalia Jackson; Stevie Wonder; Peter, Paul and Mary) with 60,000 in attendance
  • July 19–20, 1968: First International Special Olympics Summer Games were held at Soldier Field
  • 1971: The stadium's original grass field was replaced with AstroTurf
  • September 1971: The Chicago Bears moved to Soldier Field from Wrigley Field
  • 1978-1981: Renovation of aging stadium, including lighting, playing surface, locker rooms, and original plank seating replaced with individual seats with backs, armrests
  • 1982: New press box and 60 sky suites added, making the capacity 66,030
  • 1987: The stadium was designated a National Historic Landmark
  • 1988: 56 more sky suites added, making the seating capacity 66,946
  • 1988: The stadium's AstroTurf was replaced with Kentucky bluegrass
  • June-July, 1994: Soldier Field hosted the opening ceremonies of the 1994 soccer World Cup, the first time the competition was held in America
  • 2001: Chicago Park District (owner of Soldier Field) announced plans for stadium reconstruction
  • 2003: The stadium was largely reconstructed with a controversially modern design by Wood & Zapata/Lohan Caprile Goettsch.
  • September 27, 2003: Soldier Field was rededicated.
  • July 21, 2004: The 2003 renovation was too successful. The federal government threatened to take away Soldier Field's landmark status because the renovation changed it so much that it removed its historic character.
  • September 23, 2004: As a result of the 2003 renovation, a 10-member federal advisory committee unanimously recommended that Soldier Field be delisted as a National Historic Landmark
  • April 21, 2006: Soldier Field lost its status as a National Historic Landmark because of the severity of alterations made during the $660,000,000 renovation, completed in 2003 and pushed by Mayor Daley.
  • May 30, 2009: Lacrosse was played for the first time at this stadium.
  • May 2012: Soldier Field was awarded the status of LEED-EB, the first existing North American stadium and first NFL stadium to receive the designation
Notes
  • The stadium’s foundation consists of 10,000 giant wood pilings driven an average depth of six stories through landfill to bedrock
  • Original stadium cost: $13,000,000
  • 2003 Stadium reconsgtruction cost: $660,000,000
  • The original structure had a U-shaped configuration, with total seating capacity over 100,000
  • The stadium was designed in neo-classical style with paired Doric columns on the east and west sides
  • Original structure featured 74,280 permanent bleacher seats made of fir planking
  • Soldier Field is the oldest NFL stadium
  • Soldier Field was an integral venue of the Century of Progress (World’s Fair) of 1933-34
  • A column from the ruins of a Roman temple in Ostia given to Chicago by the Italian government to honor
  • General Italo Balbo's 1933 trans-Atlantic flight still stands near Soldier Field.
  • The 1968 documentary film Powers of Ten focuses on two people having a picnic on the east side of Soldier Field
  • During the 2002-2003 renovation, a grandstand was built in the open end of the U-shape, reducing seating capacity to 55,701, but moving fans closer to the field. Front row 50-yard line seats are only 55 feet away from sidelines
  • Even after the 2002-2003 renovation, Soldier Field is the third smallest NFL stadium with a standard seating capacity of 63,000
  • Video displays added to Soldier Field in 2003 include two Daktronics video boards and two 321-foot-long LED ribbon boards mounted on the fascia
  • Soldier Field has a JBL surround sound system
  • The current media box accommodates 250 people
  • Soldier Field has 133 Sky Suites
  • The longest-running non-sports event at Soldier Field was the American Legion’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show which was held from the 1930’s to the early 1980s’
  • The Chicagoland Music Festival was held at Soldier Field from 1930-1964, and was probably most popular non-sporting annual event at Soldier Field. In its peak years, it drew 90,000-100,000 and was broadcast on radio and TV
  • Soldier Field has hosted rock concerts, thrill shows, rodeos, tractor and truck pulls, circuses, fireworks displays, stock car races, sunrise services, marching band concerts, open-air operas, skiing and toboggan events including a ski jump event from a 13-story platform.
  • Today, Soldier Field and surrounding grounds host events over 200 days per year
Did You Know?
  • The Chicago Tribune derided the 2003 renovation of Soldier Field as disguising the stadium as an "Alien toilet bowl."
Look For
  • The Sledding Hill - A slope 33 feet tall, and 220 feet long. In the winter months, the city parks department makes sure it's covered with snow for the children.
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Your Thoughts

There are four comments.

  This really is a great addition to the Chicago lakefront and the structure is intriguing. The juxtaposition of the original Soldier Field and the new, modern superstructure does have favorable appeal from an aesthetic point of view. We like the New Soldier Field!

Mike - Friday, February 24th, 2012 @ 5:21pm  

  I think you guys are nuts and can't believe they took away the historical status. This is a gorgeous blending of the old and new, I adore the Romanesque columns and the shiny combination of glass and steel.

Val - Monday, May 17th, 2010 @ 9:52am  

  One might say it's symbolic of the modern treatment of sports; chock-full of glitzy advertising, parks renamed to sponsor cell-phone companies, overreported/oversold celebrity scandals, all imposing themselves on the original American tradition. But hey, that's just me.

Nathan Willcockson - Monday, June 11th, 2007 @ 2:11pm  

  The mistake-on-the-lake. Terrible clash between the old and the new. Too overpowering. With McCormick Place down the street, the worst area to travel Lake Shore Drive and of course the least scenic. Too bad. It's like having a junk yard at the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Thomas Semesky - Saturday, June 3rd, 2006 @ 7:39pm  

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