Before I give my take on The Athletics's Expert NFL stadium rankings, let me say that I’ve only been to three NFL stadiums, so I understand that I’m not nearly qualified enough to weigh in on this particular Chicago Bears subject.
But I’m going to anyway...
There’s no way that Soldier Field is the 7th best stadium in the NFL.
To be fair, The Athletic only polled their NFL writers, so the ranking is from their perspective, and not necessarily from the “fan experience” perspective, but the list wasn’t created solely based on media access and facilities. Jon Greenberg, founding editor-in-chief and columnist for The Athletic Chicago, Tweeted me that the Soldier Field “press facilities are among the worst in the league.”
Here’s the opening paragraph from Jon Machota;
What makes a great NFL stadium? Is it the gameday atmosphere? The architecture? The sight lines? The concession stands? Ticket prices? History? Several of those things can also factor into what makes a bad venue.
Most lists like this are all subjective, but I am curious what criteria the voters actually used when ranking Chicago’s home field.
The Athletic asked their writers to give their top 5 and bottom 5 stadiums, and Soldier Field landed on seven of the top ballots and three of the bottom ballots for an overall rank of seventh place.
Here’s how their top 7 looked.
1. U.S. Bank Stadium (Vikings)
2. CenturyLink Field (Seahawks)
3. AT&T Stadium (Cowboys)
4. Lambeau Field (Packers)
5. Arrowhead Stadium (Chiefs)
6. Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Falcons)
7. Soldier Field (Bears)
Soldier Field may have history on it’s side, but it has the smallest seating capacity in the league, which alone should drop it out of the top ten. Then there’s the atrocious All-22 footage that we get when the Bears are the home team, which is universally ranked as the worst of all 32 teams.
As a Bears’ fan, watching the Bears in their home is much more energetic than seeing them as the visiting team, but homer enthusiasm should only account for so much in rankings like this. Plus truth be told, I’d rather watch a game from the comfort of my own living room anyway, so...
Since I’m no expert when it comes to Soldier Field I threw the following question out on Twitter.
Is Soldier Field the 7th best stadium in the NFL?
And here are some of the responses...
Love it. Great setting, in the city, only a mile from the hotel where we stay, great atmosphere.— Kris @ (@KrisArmstrong1) July 7, 2020
It's definitely in the top 7 best stadiums in the Greater Chicagoland area...— Meh... (@TyYoungfelt) July 7, 2020
Well, the view from the Press Box area so close to the field is one thing. Being the smallest stadium in the league is a huge problem. While there is no bad seat in the house, Chicago deserves a— Michael Halatek (@tekster420) July 7, 2020
STATE OF THE ART BUILDING
But Chicago Politics will always screw it up...
Instead of shoehorning a stadium within the walls of a WWI memorial they could have built a new stadium. There were location options. Would have definitely brought a Super Bowl to Chicago already.— Tom Pollin (@tjpollin) July 7, 2020
I've been to 8 or so, and Soldier has the best sightlines and the worst accessibility.— Dave (@pa_tall) July 7, 2020
Soldier Fields accessibility issue is real and the beer prices are some of the worst for the stadiums I've been to. But the atmosphere is top notch & even in the nosebleeds you can catch the action pretty well (Indy has the best site lines though IMO)— notslar (@thenotslar) July 7, 2020
And restroom accessibility is terrible at soldier field. You don’t have that issue at other stadiums during tv breaks. You’d think for a stadium with less capacity than most, they wouldn’t have that sort of issue. Literally piss poor planning— Derek Wagner (@djwagss) July 7, 2020
being from NY and only been there once it my life to me it was a dream to finally get into the stadium. So much history and idk compared to Met Life for Jets/Giants where it's gray & blah.— Tom Fehn (@TFehn21) July 7, 2020
Historically? Yes. Functionally? No.— Jami Gibbs (@JamiGibbs) July 7, 2020
It's a really nice stadium in a great, visually, location. It's biggest flaw, and it's a major one, is that the accessibility is AWFUL and getting in and out is the f-ing worst.— Brandon Feldt (@TheRealBFeldt) July 7, 2020
Amazing location, beautiful atmosphere, passionate fans, and the old Soldier Feild is awesome to behold.— Kyle Smith (@K_Smith2471) July 7, 2020
But the biggest problem is parking. It's very expensive to park on sight, and traffic is usually awful
What do you guys think?