Landmarks Illinois statement re: proposed changes to Soldier Field in Chicago

(Photo of Soldier Field prior to previous renovations. Credit Ron Gordon)

March 13, 2024

Landmarks Illinois has long advocated to protect Chicago’s historic Soldier Field, which has stood as an iconic landmark along our city’s lakefront for 100 years.

The stadium is named in honor of U.S. soldiers who died in World War I. Designed by the groundbreaking, Chicago-based architectural firm Holabird & Roche, Soldier Field was completed in 1924 just 10 years after the Great War began. The structure’s prominent and iconic colonnades and multiple free-standing sculptures and statues pay homage to the men and women who valiantly served our country.

Soldier Field is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and remains a significant site worth preserving. Over the past 23 years, each time the future of Soldier Field was threatened, Landmarks Illinois led efforts to preserve the historic integrity of the site, including listing the building on our Most Endangered Historic Places in 2002. As a proposal to build a new stadium south of the existing one has recently surfaced, Landmarks Illinois will again take a stand to save the important landmark.

We have not seen a detailed plan for a new stadium so we cannot comment on specifics. However, we understand from recent reports that building a new stadium would include demolishing Soldier Field except for the existing colonnades and war memorials. If true, such a plan would undoubtedly fall short of properly preserving and honoring the stadium originally built as a monument for U.S. servicemen and women.

While we applaud the Chicago Bears for its desire to maintain a stadium — and the economic boon the team’s games generate — in Chicago, we would not approve of a plan that demolishes the few remaining pieces of the original Soldier Field.

We have already witnessed major missteps in the past by those who serve as stewards of Soldier Field. Previous changes to the once-designated National Historic Landmark caused the building to lose vital aspects of its historic value. Let us not lose more by tearing it down.

Additionally, this October, Soldier Field will mark a century since it first opened its doors. We hope the city will choose not to tarnish this milestone by allowing the demolition of our history. Of the many things that Chicago excels at in the world, it is the creative adaptation of our signature historic architecture for modern use.

Bonnie McDonald
President & CEO, Landmarks Illinois

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