Such is the state of the hamster wheel that I was on the radio talking about this last night before I had a chance to write it up here, but anyway: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is “in the very preliminary stages of looking at” a 5,000-seat expansion of the Bears‘ Soldier Field, according to the Chicago Tribune. Cost? Who knows! Who’ll pay for it? Ditto! Why? To get the Super Bowl, of course:
Last month, the mayor told Tribune sports columnist David Haugh that Chicago could bid for the Super Bowl as early as 2019.
“The goal is to find a decision that moves the city forward. You don’t measure it that way. Would a Super Bowl be good for the city and good for the NFL? I think yes. Would having the NFL draft here be good for the city and for the NFL? The answer is yes. The goal is to have a discussion,” Emanuel said.
Chicago houses the NFL’s smallest stadium in terms of capacity. Soldier Field seats 61,500 — 8,500 shy of the NFL’s preferred minimum for a Super Bowl.
To be fair, Emanuel spokesperson Sarah Hamilton also said that the idea of adding more seats to Soldier Field was also motivated by a desire to get more revenue from concerts or outdoor NHL games — okay, no, wait, that’s just ridiculous, who on earth adds seats to a football stadium in order to make more money off of outdoor hockey? This is a Super Bowl grab, pure and simple.
Which is, as I’ve covered recently, just about the worst reason possible to spend a lot of money on stadium renovations, especially for a stadium that was just entirely rebuilt at a public cost of $432 million a decade ago. Though maybe in the course of adding seating, they could do something about Soldier Field being the ugliest piece of architecture on earth? Almost certainly not — more seats is only going to make it look more like a spaceship that crashed into a vintage stadium — but we’ve gotta grasp at silver linings where we can.