SBD/June 1, 2012/Facilities

Chicago Mayor Pitches Soldier Field Super Bowl To NFL Commissioner Goodell

Goodell said that the capacity of Soldier Field "isn't the most important issue"
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Thursday was "pitching the idea" of Soldier Field hosting a Super Bowl to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during a private meeting, according to Spielman & Jensen of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Emanuel joked, ‘‘I found out a secret -- that is, the commissioner’s in-laws live in the Chicago area, and I’m holding them hostage until that happens." Emanuel: "Obviously, they’re gonna have their first (cold weather) Super Bowl in another city. We’ll see how that goes. But we talked about why (not) Chicago?" Goodell mentioned Super Bowl XLVIII set for MetLife Stadium and said, "If we can do it successfully there, that opens up doors that we’ll all be looking at. Obviously, [Chicago knows] how to host great events. The mayor just mentioned several. And you’ve got a great stadium." Soldier Field's seating capacity of about 62,575 is the smallest in the NFL. Goodell said that the number of fans "who could be jammed into Soldier Field -- and the number of tickets sold -- isn't the most important issue." SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said that the concern "isn’t about the gate receipts but rather the ticket commitments from the NFL and conference champions to corporate, network and other stakeholders" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/1). In Chicago, John Byrne notes Lucas Oil Stadium's 63,000 capacity for football games makes it the second smallest NFL stadium behind Soldier Field, "but that was increased to about 68,000 for this year's Super Bowl." One notable difference between the two stadiums is the retractable roof at Lucas Oil Stadium. Goodell said that is important for a Super Bowl host site "to be able to host the many people who come into the city just to be a part of the event without attending the game" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/1).

HINDSIGHT IS 20/20: In Chicago, Dan Pompei notes if the city “wanted to be host to a Super Bowl, it should have done two things differently in 2001 when the city decided to rebuild Soldier Field.” It should have “made the capacity significantly larger, and it should have put a dome over it.” The average face value for a Super Bowl ticket “is about $1,000,” meaning a Super Bowl at 80,000-seat Cowboys Stadium “would be worth considerably more than a Super Bowl at Soldier Field in ticket sales alone.” And while the NFL will play Super Bowl XLVIII outdoors at MetLife Stadium, Chicago "in February makes New York feel like Honolulu” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/1). The Chicago Tribune's Fred Mitchell noted when Soldier Field was renovated, the team "actually reduced the capacity of the stadium and it did not meet the minimum requirements ... to host a Super Bowl." There would have to be "some structural changes made in order to accommodate that many people.” Comcast SportsNet Chicago's Dave Kaplan: “In addition, you would have to get a field because you can't play on painted dirt” ("Chicago Tribune Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 5/31).
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