Over the last few days, there have been significant developments for two Chicago sports franchises potentially looking at new stadiums to call home.
The Chicago White Sox, long rumored to be unhappy with Guaranteed Rate Field, officially released renderings of a potential new stadium and district in the South Loop. The new ballpark would be located at the corner of Clark Street and Roosevelt Road, in an area known as “The 78.” The new ballpark would be situated along the Chicago River, and be the anchor to a new district containing bars, restaurants, parks, and affordable housing among other amenities.
In addition to these renderings, developer Related Midwest also released renderings of a renovated Guaranteed Rate Field, converting it into a soccer stadium and turning the surrounding area into a mixed-use development containing housing and green spaces.
If this were to come to fruition, the Sox would be leaving an area it has called home for the large majority of their franchise history. The team joined Major League Baseball in 1901, and in 1910 they first moved to 35th and Shields at old Comiskey Park. In 1991, the Sox moved across the street to what was then known as New Comiskey Park. Should the team leave when their lease expires after the 2029 season, the Southsiders would be leaving Bridgeport after nearly 120 seasons.
As for the other team looking at a new stadium, the Chicago Bears. Yes, there’s been a change in philosophy at Halas Hall. After Arlington Heights was seen as a sure thing by many fans, team president Kevin Warren has changed his tune quite a bit in his 10 months in that role. Recent reports have stated that the focus for a new stadium has shifted from the suburbs to the city’s lakefront.
Unlike the White Sox situation, there have been no detailed renderings of a new stadium, be it in Arlington or otherwise. Warren did mention in a letter to season ticketholders that the new stadium would be a fixed roof venue, not open-air or retractable, marking the end of outdoor Bears football. However, other than this, we don’t know much more about what the Bears’ plans are for a new venue.
Soldier Field has been the home of the Bears since 1971. In 2002, the stadium underwent a $632M renovation, which essentially gutted the interior of the nearly century-old building, left the historic colonnades on the exterior, and built a brand-new interior. The renovation is often ridiculed by Bears fans, the architecture community, and Chicagoans in general, often mockingly referred to as the “Mistake by the Lake” and the “Eyesore on the Lake Shore.” The Bears’ lease at Soldier Field expires in 2031, however, they could pay a fee to break their lease as early as 2026, but with no shovels in the ground at either Arlington Heights or on the lakefront, it is highly unlikely that the Bears will break the lease anytime soon.
It looks to be a new era in Chicago sports stadiums, and it could be coming sooner rather than later.
By Jermale Dabney, Junior, Lindblom Math and Science Academy
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