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Friday, June 01, 2012

Chicago Host the Super Bowl? Probably Not...Thanks to Mayor Daley

Can Chicago host the Super Bowl at Soldier Field?

Leaving aside the obvious (winter and weather) for multiple events that surround the Super Bowl, including the game itself, there's a particular problem with Soldier Field.

It's the smallest stadium in the NFL with a capacity of only 61,500.

Not because the stadium was designed to be that fact, it once had a capacity exceeding 74,000.

However, when the Chicago Bears threatened to move a few years ago and Mayor Daley panicked he wouldn't have a tenant for Soldier Field, they came up with a scheme to have taxpayers spend about $700 million to "renovate" the stadium, shrinking the dimensions, capacity and basically plopping a new stadium into the bowl of the old stadium.

At the time, Mayor Daley had flip-flopped on his support of an Olympic Bid and said he would "never" do it, so it also meant Chicago would have to build a new stadium in the future for an Olympic Games, which he later supported once the bid became controlled by the city.

He worked a deal with Bears co-owner Pat Ryan and the political power brokers in Springfield to have taxpayers to pay for it all so Daley and Chicago could stay in control.

There was a plan for a retractable domed stadium for Chicago that would be connected to McCormick Place and host any major global event anytime of the year, but Daley rejected that vision because the land was owned by the state and meant he couldn't control it along with the contracts, jobs and all the other things that are part of the Chicago Way.

So, now Rahm Emanuel wants the NFL to consider Chicago as a host for a Super Bowl, but he was silent when all these short-sighted decisions were made about the renovation of Soldier Field and giving the Bears a $700 million gift.

Super Bowl is not just the NFL's main event, but it's one of sports most significant events anywhere, so given recent history and what happens when the City of Chicago tries to control anything, it may not be a good idea to host it at Soldier Field, the smallest venue in the NFL...second to none.


Anonymous said...

Actually, I don't think the size of the stadium will be the drawback. After all, the vast majority of the money that comes in to the NFL and the owners from the Super Bowl comes in from TV revenues, NOT gate receipts. I think there are two strikes against Soldier Field in the minds of the NFL: 1) outdoor field in a location that has a REAL winter, and 2) grass field. If the game goes well in New York, that could reduce the worries associated w/ #1 (and being kind of old school I'd love that -- back to the days of the Ice Bowl, etc.). The issue is whether Chicago and the Park District would ever go for installing Field Turf (like I said, I'm old school and prefer grass, but most teams/players want artificial).

Anonymous said...

The league doesn't like cold weather cities for Super bowls.

Besides the game, Super Bowl week is like spring break for reporters, fans, players, etc. Lots of parties and running around. Not nearly as fun when it's 20 below zero!

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