Soldier Field (Grant Park Stadium)

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1410 Museum Campus Dr, Chicago, IL 60605, United States
Cooksville , Illinois

Soldier Field is an American football stadium on the Near South Side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Opened in 1924, it is the oldest NFL stadium, celebrating 90 years of operation. Since 1971 it has been the home of the National Football League's Chicago Bears. With a capacity of 61,500, it is the third smallest stadium in the NFL. In 2003, the interior underwent extensive renovation.

History
Origin of name and design model

The field serves as a memorial to American soldiers who have died in wars. It was designed in 1919 and opened on October 9, 1924, as Municipal Grant Park Stadium, changing its name to Soldier Field on November 11, 1925. It was named after winning a contest held by a Chicago Newspaper. Edward Mueller was the winner. Originally the name plate was erected "Soldiers" field, but was corrected after Edward wrote the paper back. Its formal dedication as Soldier Field was on Saturday, November 27, 1926, during the 29th annual playing of the Army–Navy Game.Its design is modeled on the Greco-Roman architectural tradition, with doric columns rising above the entrance.

Early configuration

In its earliest configuration, Soldier Field was capable of seating 74,280 spectators and was in the shape of a U. Additional seating could be added along the interior field, upper promenades and on the large, open field and terrace beyond the north endzone, bringing the seating capacity to over 100,000. The largest crowd for any event at Soldier Field is difficult to determine.

Chicago Bears move in

Soldier Field was used as a site for many sporting events and exhibitions. In September 1971 the Chicago Bears made it their home. They previously played at Wrigley Field, best known as the home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. They had intended to build a stadium in Arlington Heights. In 1978, the Bears and the Chicago Park District agreed to a 20-year lease and renovation of the stadium. Both parties pooled their resources for the renovation.

Replacement talks

In 1989, Soldier Field's future was in jeopardy after a proposal was created for a "McDome", which was intended to be a domed stadium for the Bears, but was rejected by the Illinois Legislature in 1990. Because of this, Bears president Michael McCaskey considered relocation as a possible factor for a new stadium. The Bears had also purchased options in Hoffman Estates and Aurora. In 1995, McCaskey announced that he and Northwest Indiana developers agreed to construction of an entertainment complex called "Planet Park", which would also include a new stadium. However, the plan was rejected by the Lake County Council, and in 1998, Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley proposed that the Bears share Comiskey Park with the Chicago White Sox.

Renovation and landmark delisting

In 2001, the Chicago Park District, which owns the structure, faced substantial criticism when it announced plans to alter the stadium by architect Dirk Lohan, the grandson of architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, of the Chicago-based architecture firm of Lohan Associates in a joint venture with architect Benjamin T. Wood of the Boston-based architecture firm Wood and Zapata. The stadium's interior would be demolished and reconstructed while the exterior would be preserved.

Public transportation

The closest Chicago 'L' station to Soldier Field is the Roosevelt station on the Orange, Green and Red lines. The Chicago Transit Authority also operates the 128 Soldier Field Express bus route to the stadium from Ogilvie Transportation Center and Union Station. There are also two Metra stations close by—the Museum Campus/11th Street station on the Metra Electric Line, which also is used by South Shore Line trains, and 18th Street, which is only served by the Metra Electric Line. Pace also provides access from the Northwest, West and Southwest suburbs to the stadium with four express routes from Schaumburg, Lombard, Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge, Palos Heights and Oak Lawn.

Special Olympics

The 1st International Special Olympics Summer Games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 19–20, 1968. The games spanned two days and more than 1,000 people with intellectual disabilities from 26 U.S. states and Canada competed in track and field and swimming, sparking a worldwide Special Olympics movement that now thrives today.

Hockey

The Chicago Blackhawks played against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 1, 2014 as part of the NHL's Stadium Series. The Blackhawks defeated the Penguins 5-1 before a sold-out crowd of 62,921.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Miami RedHawks played a doubleheader on February 17, 2013 with the Wisconsin Badgers and Minnesota Golden Gophers, in the first outdoor hockey game in the history of the stadium.

Rugby Union

The stadium is scheduled to host its first international rugby union test match between the United States and New Zealand on November 1, 2014 as part of the 2014 end-of-year rugby union tests.More than half of the 61,500 tickets were sold within two days.

In popular culture

In the Marvel Comics event Siege, Soldier Field is inadvertently destroyed mid-game by Thor's friend Volstagg when he is tricked into fighting the U-Foes through Loki and Norman Osborn's manipulations of events.The stadium is later seen being rebuilt by the heroes after Steve Rogers is appointed head of U.S. Security, following the aforementioned event.
The 1968 documentary film Powers of Ten focuses on two people having a picnic on the east side of Soldier Field.
The stadium appears in the 2006 Clint Eastwood-directed movie Flags of Our Fathers, when the survivors of the Iwo Jima flag-raising reenact it for a patriotic rally.
Soldier Field was the last venue ever performed at by the Grateful Dead on July 9, 1995.

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