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Hot Take Tuesday: Why Soldier Field sucks

The incoherent ramblings of a belligerent Bears fan

Soldier Field Stadium, Chicago by Mark McMahon Photo by �� Franklin McMahon/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

I really just can’t take it anymore. Every time there is a bump in the road with the Chicago Bears and their Arlington Heights project, somehow, someway, we end up discussing the Chicago Bears staying at Soldier Field. The answer to that is a simple one: No.

Are we kidding here? Are there still people that believe that Soldier Field is a good stadium, and have those people ever been to another football stadium?

Soldier Field is one of the worst facilities in the NFL, and that’s after the glorious renovation that Ted Phillips and the city did to the stadium in the first place.

Why does Soldier Field suck? Let me count the ways.

10. There are 10 ways (probably more).

The turf. How much longer do we need to make the players suffer? Find one player in the history of the NFL that has said the Soldier Field turf is average. You can’t. No comment is about the most polite a team or player will be. It’s awful. It’s dangerous. Players hate it. So yeah, just being at Soldier Field makes the football product worse.

Parking. There’s none. Let me explain: if you need to take a shuttle from the parking lot to the game, that is not parking for the game, that is parking being repurposed for the game. I get it, it’s a city stadium so parking will be hard, but parking over on Michigan Avenue while taking a shuttle bus through the bowels of the city and then having to wait for that bus after the game has not, does not and will never work. Is it a city bus? No, it isn’t. It’s a school bus designed for 75 lb. children, not 225 lb. men. We don’t fit.

Public Transportation. Also a big zero. Sure, the red line is kinda close. But it’s still a hike from the Roosevelt stop to the game and if you aren’t on the red line in Chicago, it makes the location even worse. Wrigley Field is conveniently on the red line. So is the park formerly known as Comiskey. At least the United Center is right off the Eisenhower. Soldier Field is buried on the other side of Lake Shore Drive and you just can’t get to it. It’s not even like it’s a straight shot from the Roosevelt stop, you have to wind through the museum campus and by the time you get to the stadium, you’ve been walking for 30 minutes.

Lack of gates. Can we get into the stadium, please? There are only a few ways to enter the stadium and with more security measures at the gates these days, the lines get long, real long. So after you’ve waited in the lines and taken the shuttle bus adventure or already hiked 30 minutes to get there from the L, now you’re in line another 20 to 30 minutes just to get into the stadium.

Lack of bathrooms. This isn’t good either. You know going to the bathroom at a sporting event is always an adventure but with Soldier Field, you have to take strategy to the next level. At halftime, forget it, you’ll miss the start of the third quarter. Go after a touchdown and the Bears almost certainly will have the ball by the time you get back. Some times lines can be 15-20 minutes in length and that means you’ve missed nearly half a quarter.

Going with kids. Forget it. You want to talk about the agitation of the lack of parking and public transportation for a couple healthy adults to get to the game? Throw in a couple of kids under the age of 10 that want to go cheer for their favorite football team and yikes. The long walks, the waiting in lines, the bus shuttles. The whole thing is a mess. I was fortunate enough to have family season tickets and go to games as a child and while the memories do a good job of fading away the sore feet and complaining I almost certainly did, they were there, oh believe me, they were there.

The renovation. Can we all finally admit that Ted Phillips and the city of Chicago just blew this one? The stadium went from a classic looking stadium to a weird morph of modern and old that don’t fit at all. It’s like taking two 500-piece jigsaw puzzles and throwing them into one box and telling someone to make a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. It doesn’t work. It never worked. I remember going to the first game at the “new” stadium against Green Bay and being thoroughly unimpressed. This never worked. The classic pillars are now dwarfed and out of place and the modern look just looks like two spaceships crashed at midfield. The fact that it took the Bears franchise less than 20 years to want out, proves just how bad of an attempt this was. This was supposedly Ted Phillips’ crowning achievement as team President and how anyone would want to point to this monstrosity as any level of achievement is confusing to me.

The food. It’s mediocre at best. Sure, you can get a decent sausage there but the city of Chicago is known for it’s food and what you can get at the stadium does not reflect that. So many of the great new stadiums and ballparks have great food options. The Bears just don’t. It’s not the worst thing about the stadium, but it certainly isn’t a selling point either.

The size. It’s the smallest stadium by capacity in the NFL. That means less seats available for Bears fans and less money for the McCaskeys to make. Sure, the McCaskeys have plenty of money and I’m not trying to line any pockets, but the more profitable the Bears are, the more money they will spend on the product and the more prominent the franchise becomes. The capacity of the stadium actually decreased after the renovations proving that they never should have happened in the first place.

Bear weather. Can we put this fallacy to bed? Going to football games in sub-zero temperatures is stupid. Sure, it was fun in the 1980s when the defense was barking and cheering the snow, but that was then, and this is now. This isn’t a home field advantage for the team. Most players on the team hate the cold. Some players eliminate cities like Chicago from their free agent wish list on weather alone. Football is not 3 yards and a cloud of dust anymore. It’s an elegant game that doesn’t do well in poor conditions. Put a retractable roof on a stadium. It’s 2023, not 1953. I remember being at a December game against the Falcons when my beer started to freeze. That’s when I realized just how stupid going to these games in those conditions is. If you disagree with this paragraph, you are most likely under the age of 25.

You may not agree with all of these, but you certainly agree with some (and probably most). People fear change. A city that has embraced having stadiums in the city, having a major team playing out in Arlington Heights would certainly be jarring. But it’s a stadium that can be built from the ground up, not trying to fix what’s already broken. Going to football games at Soldier Field is not a good experience. Is it the worst in the NFL? Of course not. But don’t get all nostalgic about going to the game in 1995 and sharing a hot dog with your dad while the Bears lost to Minnesota by two touchdowns. It’s time. The McCaskeys know it. Kevin Warren knows it. The players know it. And most fans know it too.