Chicago Architecture Info

Soldier Field

Formerly known as Municipal Grant Park Stadium
1410 South Museum Campus Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60605
Basic Information
Designed by Holabird & Roche
Cost $13,000,000
Type Entertainment Venue
Neighborhood: South Loop
More Information
  • 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
  • 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