On any given Sunday afternoon from September to December, thousands of Chicagoans and sports fans converge around Soldier Field, home to the Chicago Bears of the NFL (National Football League). The parking lots surrounding the stadium buzz with excitement for hours prior to each game and even in the coldest temperatures, diehard Chicago sports fans pack Soldier Field to cheer on the home team.
Opened in 1924, the stadium was built as a memorial to fallen American soldiers. Over the years, it welcomed crowds of over 100,000 people for events like the 1927 heavyweight match between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney and a visit by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1944. The stadium was also the site of the very first Special Olympic Games, held in 1968, and in 1994, the it hosted the first World Cup Games to be played in the United States. In 1971, it became the official home of the Chicago Bears and has since hosted concerts by legendary artists such as Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, the Grateful Dead and Paul McCartney. However, the venue they play in has changed since its early days; Soldier Field was renovated – despite much protest from locals – in the early 2000’s and in 2004 it was removed from the National Register of Historic Places.
If you can’t make it to one of the 200 events that take place at Soldier Field each year, try joining a tour while you’re in town. Lasting about one hour, tours include the field, south courtyard, doughboy statue, grand concourse, United Club, colonnades, Skyline Suite and the visitors’ locker room.
Soldier Field is located at 1410 S. Museum Campus Drive, just south of the Field Museum, near downtown Chicago. It is easily accessible by public transportation, just a short walk from the Roosevelt/Wabash “el” stop for the Red, Green and Orange Lines. Day and overnight parking is available.
Photo courtesy of DanMS via Wikimedia Commons