CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayoral hopeful Gery Chico said Saturday that, if he’s elected, he would work to bring the Super Bowl to Soldier Field, despite concerns about the stadium’s small size and Chicago’s winter weather.
Chico noted that the NFL recently voted to break its 50-degree temperature barrier for the Super Bowl to allow New York to host the Super Bowl in 2014.
“We should pursue every possible avenue to bring America’s greatest sports competition to America’s greatest sports city,” Gery Chico said at a campaign event in the Beverly neighborhood. “If New York can do it, Chicago can do it.”
He also said he would work with architects to add more seats to Soldier Field so that it could meet NFL standards for a Super Bowl.
The NFL requires a stadium to have at least 70,000 seats to host a Super Bowl, but Soldier Field – the smallest stadium in the NFL – is about 8,500 seats shy of that mark.
Chico said it would be possible to expand seating at Soldier Field on a temporary basis in order to host a Super Bowl. He was Mayor Richard M. Daley’s chief of staff when temporary changes were made at Soldier Field in 1994 to host World Cup soccer games.
“We should never allow the status quo to prevent our city from reaching for new heights,” Chico said. “A Chicago Super Bowl would be good for our economy, good for our spirit and good for Chicagoans. It should be pursued.”
Architect Dirk Lohan, who helped design the renovation of Soldier Field in 2003, told the Chicago Tribune that, if it had been possible to have more than the current 61,500 seats at Soldier Field, it would have been done eight years ago.
“If you do it, and structural work has to be done on the north side to add those seats, that’s a major expense and that wouldn’t be temporary so you wouldn’t do that for one game and rip it out again,” Lohan told the Tribune. “If there had been an easy way to do it, it would have been done because the Bears had that interest too. But the bowl was completed to bring everybody as close to the field as possible.”
But another architect who worked on the stadium, Carlos Zapata, told the Tribune that a temporary expansion would be possible.