SBD/March 6, 2014/Facilities

Chicago Aldermen Question Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Call For Soldier Field Expansion

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's suggestion that Soldier Field should be expanded was "met with questions Wednesday about how the city would pay for added seats and whether it's a prudent move given the city's shaky finances," according to Ruthart & Byrne of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Adding to the stadium's "lowest-in-the-NFL seating capacity could be a way to help Emanuel reach his goal of hosting a Super Bowl in Chicago." But Emanuel yesterday "sought to frame a potential Soldier Field expansion as a way to boost other events the Chicago Park District-owned stadium has hosted." Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti, whose district includes Soldier Field, said that no taxpayer money "should be used." But Emanuel said that questions about funding for an expansion "were premature because the city and Chicago Park District first would have to determine if the plan was feasible." He added that his "original notion of adding 5,000 seats is just a starting point, and that after more research, it may be deemed 7,000 seats is better or the decision may to be add zero seats" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/6). Chicago Alderman John Arena pointed out that city taxpayers spent more than $400M to "rebuild Soldier Field for the Bears more than ten years ago." Arena: "The Bears are a profitable football team. They would be the ones to benefit from this. If they want to pay for it on their own dime, God bless `em. It’s about time they paid us back for all that they've received using a Park District facility for decades." Alderman Brendan Reilly said, "I don’t think this is the right time for the city of Chicago to consider big public subsidies for stadiums or take on more debt" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/6).
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