4:08 PM CST, March 7, 2014
What is it about Soldier Field that makes Chicago mayors lose their judgment? The renovation completed in 2003 was one of the worst blots on Mayor Richard Daley's record, burdening taxpayers with $432 million in costs and giving the Bears the smallest stadium in the NFL.
It also remained uncovered, which means it is poorly suited to major events like the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four. Oh, and did I mention it's ugly as a mud fence?
Rahm Emanuel could resign himself to being stuck with the Eyesore on the Lake Shore. Instead, he's got an itch to make new mistakes. He's investigating an expansion of the arena that would add 5,000 seats in hopes of getting, yes, a Super Bowl.
Never mind that the NFL says the minimum capacity for the event is 70,000. Never mind that very few people would relish sitting for four hours freezing in the dark in Chicago in February. The mayor is pressing ahead anyway.
Soldier Field has cost taxpayers too much already, consuming hotel tax revenue that could have been used for more urgent purposes. The city should have given the Bears a choice: finance the renovation privately or find a new home. But since it didn't, we might as well cut our losses.
If someone wants to expand Soldier Field with corporate money, I say good luck to them. Otherwise, we should leave bad enough alone.
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