The smallest NFL stadium in the country, Soldier Field has a more intimate feel than say that of Cowboys or New Meadowlands Stadium. Around the stadium you'll find plaques, sculptures and along the inside wall of the South Courtyard on the Grand Concourse are panels with falling leaves paying homage to the soldiers who have lost their lives in battle. The South Courtyard is also a good meeting place for fans before and after a game with concessions and a garden terrace setting.
If you're sitting in the south end of the stadium you can get some great views of downtown Chicago's skyline. It can get colder at the stadium than most places due to it's location on Lake Michigan so come prepared. The concessions lines move pretty fast and there are heaters near the concessions so it's not terribly bad waiting for your next beer.
If you're planning to buy any kind of memorabilia, we'd suggest hitting the pro shop before the game unless you need to kill some time after the game is over. The pro shop will be jammed after the game so plan according to your schedule.
Food and Drink:
Do as the natives do and grab a Chicago Dog (Sec 106, 246, 319, 356, 440) complete with a pickle spear, yellow mustard, sport peppers, relish, onions and fresh tomatoes all on a poppy seed bun. Or stop by a Second City Pizza stand located thoughout the stadium.
We also recommend the Italian Sausage (143, 433, 439) or grab some BBQ at Smoke House (Sec 122, 442) or at Robinson’s Ribs (Gate 0 Northwest Plaza) serving up BBQ Ribs, Chicken, and Rib Sandwiches.
Soldier Field is a Miller sponsored stadium so you will see that in abundance here, however the stadium does offer premiums and imports - several Brews Brothers stand serve up beer like Heineken, Amstel Light, Becks, Tecate, Guinness, Honker’s Ale, Leinenkugel Honeyweis, along with Wine and Specialty Drinks (Sec 124, 140, 319, 436.) For Leine on draft, Portable Leinenkugel stands are also at the Northwest Plaza, Section 319, and several locations on the Main Concourse. Draft Guinness can be found at a portable stand at Sec 155.
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The Stadium and Neighborhood:
Opening in 1924 under the name Municipal Grant Park Stadium, Soldier Field was designed in honor of American Soldiers who died in previous wars. It was originally designed modeling Greco-Roman architecture with it's massive columns. It officially became Soldier Field November 1925, but wasn't the official home of the Chicago Bears until 1971. After total renovations in 2003, 50-yard line seats were only 55 feet away from the sidelines at Soldier Field. That was the closest until the New Meadowlands (now MetLife) opened in 2010, where the sidelines are only 45 feet from the stands.
The South Loop neighborhood is quickly becoming one of the hottest areas in Chicago with a lot of new cafes, restaurants and bars. Tourists come here to enjoy the nearby Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and Field Museum of natural science. Soldier Field is situated right on Lake Michigan so fans visiting here are exposed to one of the nicer views in all of football. Take some time to walk around the grounds near the lake (if it's not freezing out), and check out Michigan and Wabash Avenues for some pre or post game drinks and food. If you want something close and quick and local, there's a great hotdog stand right across the street in front of The Field Museum called Kim & Carlo's. You can get everything from a Chicago-style Dog to a Veggie Dog.
Also check out our "Before & After the Game" section for other specific recommendations.
If you choose stadium parking, be prepared for expensive parking passes (starts around $25+fees) and very long and frustrating lines getting in and out of stadium parking.
You can find cheaper parking at private lots around the stadium. See our parking maps in our Before and After the Game section for suggestions and pricing.
If you just spent a mint for that awesome seat you might want to park a little further from the stadium and walk. You can find free/meter parking on 16th and 18th streets between Michigan Ave and State Street.
Unfortunately it’s difficult to tailgate at Soldier Field. They don’t really support independent tailgating. Starting with the fact that you have to have a season parking pass in a tailgating permitted lot to tailgate. But in order to get that pass, you first have to enter the parking lottery and it’s a crap shoot if you’ll actually get a tailgating permitted spot.
You can go for a cash lot at the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium, Burnham Harbor, and 31st Street Log, but plan on getting there very early. Fans suggest by 7am on game day to get a spot to tailgate.
The Bears sponsors their own Tailgate party on the Southside Lawn near Gate 6. It is free and open to the public with or without a ticket to the game. It opens 2 hours before game time and there's food and beverages available.
Metra Commuter Trains:
From Ogilvie Transportation Center (OTC) and Union Station:
From OTC and Union Station, the #128 Soldier Field Express buses travel a non-stop route to Soldier Field. CTA’s #128 Soldier Field Express buses begin leaving the stations starting two hours before game time until 30 minutes after kickoff. At OTC, board buses on Madison Street. At Union Station, board buses on Jackson Boulevard east of Canal Street.
South Shore Line: runs trains on the Metra Electric Line from South Bend, Indiana to downtown Chicago, serving the southeast portion of Chicago and northwest Indiana. Exit at the McCormick Place stop at 18th Street and walk one block north to Soldier Field.
CTA “EL” trains:
The Red, Orange, and Green Lines stop at Roosevelt Station, between State Street and Wabash Avenue, where transfers can be made to the #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express bus, or walk east on Roosevelt Road through Museum Campus to the stadium.
Soldier Field can be reached on the #128 Soldier Field Express and the #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express buses.
To exit Soldier Field after the game, board #128 and #146 buses along the west side of the Transportation Center (“East Museum Lot”) at the corner of McFetridge and Museum Campus Drive, just northeast of the stadium. transitchicago.com
Pace – Soldier Field Express Buses:
Pace operates Soldier Field Express Buses for Bears home games. These buses depart from the following locations:
• Northwest Transportation Center – on 1730 Kimberly Drive at the corner of Martingale Road in Schaumburg.
• Yorktown – at 138 Yorktown Shopping Center in Lombard.
Bus stop is outside JC Penney.
• Bolingbrook - at 126 E. Old Chicago Drive near
• Burr Ridge - at McClintock Drive near Lincolnshire Drive.
• Oak Lawn – at Metra Station at 9525 S. Tulley Drive. Bus stop is on 52nd and Yourell Drive.
• Palos Heights - at Metra Station at 11451 Southwest Highway. Bus stop is on upper level near the station.
The fare is $4.00 each way, and exact fare is required. Free parking is available at each departure location.
Buses depart 30 minutes after the game is over from the same location where passengers are dropped off.
For more information on Pace buses, visit pacebus.com or call (847) 228-2416.
WARNING - No Umbrellas Allowed Inside the Stadium.
Yes they will make you trash it at the door, so don't even attempt it.
Will Unga contribute next season? Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans every day on ChicagoBears.com.
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