The history of Soldier Field Chicago and of the Chicago Bears stadium began in 1920 when George Halas first managed the Decatur Staleys owned by the A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company. Halas met with club owners of other football teams during this time, and together the group formed the framework of the American Professional Football Association. In 1924, the name was changed to the National Football League. The Chicago Bears and Chicago Fire games draw huge crowds, and with the stadium's central location, there are many downtown Chicago hotels near Soldier Field.
In 1921, Staley sold the team to Halas with the stipulation that the team retain the name Staley for another year. The team changed its name to the Chicago Staleys and moved from Staley Field to Wrigley Field, where they played and won ten of thirteen games during their first year. In 1922, after the agreed-to year, the team changed its name again, this time choosing the Chicago Bears.
The team continued to play at Wrigley Field, which remained the home Chicago Bears until 1970. Their final game at Wrigley was on December 13 of that year against the Green Bay Packers. The Bears finished with a win of 35-17 and left Wrigley after having played a total of 332 games at their home field. In 1971, after moving to Soldier Field and making it the new Chicago Bears Stadium, the team played its opening home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning 17-15.
Soldier Field Chicago initially started out as the Municipal Grant Park Stadium and opened in 1924. A year later, on November 11, 1925, the name was changed to Solider Field as a memorial to American soldiers killed while serving their country. It has remained the home stadium for the Bears since 1971, with the exception of one year spent at Memorial Stadium while major renovations took place at Soldier Field in 2003.
Soldier Field Exterior
The original Soldier Field seating layout could accommodate approximately 66,000 fans, but after extensive renovations that including expanding certain areas of the stadium and adding additional facilities, the Soldier Field Chicago accommodates 61,500, as a significant number of seats were removed.
However, the new seating arrangements provide wider, more comfortable contoured seating with convenient cup holders. With the bowl design of the stadium and the seating moved closer to the field, all seats provide a good view of the field, regardless of where the seat is located. Additionally, there are 133 suites and 8,600 climate-controlled club seats available. The renovated Soldier Field also has many more concessions and restrooms, as well as an underground garage and parking deck, televisions throughout the stadium, and an information board to display game stats.
The name of the stadium remains Soldier Field, and as an additional tribute to the men and women in the US military, the six-foot statue depicting the Spirit of the American Doughboy stands in the courtyard. At the northwest end of the stadium the Memorial Waterfall honors prisoners of war and soldiers from all branches of service who are missing in action, and the sculpture Chicago's Tribute to Freedom, depicting men and women of the military and their families, is located in the northern section.
Soldier Field is located at 1410 South Museum Campus Drive, close to other major Chicago attractions including the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium.
Image: City of Chicago