Bigger video boards for Soldier Field

The Bears' big plays on the field are about to get bigger.

The team, along with the Chicago Park District, are looking to swap out the video boards at the north and south endzones of Soldier Field for newer, brighter, clearer and bigger ones.

But fans will have to wait until next season to see the action on the two high-definition video screens.

"Our plan is to have larger, high definition boards in place for the 2015 football season. The collective goal is to create the best entertainment experience for all fans who attend Bears games and other events at Soldier Field throughout the year," Bears spokesman Scott Hagel said in a statement issued by Soldier Field. 

The new video boards will be funded jointly by the team and the park district, which owns Soldier Field. Officials say they are awaiting bids to determine the pricetag for the project.

The current video screens in each endzone measure 23 feet high and 82 feet wide.

The park district document seeking bids for the new screens lists "overall display dimensions" for the new video screens as 40 feet by 129 feet, a size confirmed by Luca Serra, Soldier Field spokesman.  

The existing video boards have been in use since the 2003 Soldier Field renovation.

Kiera Ellis, a park district spokeswoman told RedEye: "The old boards are 12 seasons old and have become obsolete. Replacing faulty panels and equipment is very expensive and in some cases, the manufacturers have phased out production of replacement parts." 

Currently, the video boards are flanked by fixed advertising signs, which will be phased out, Serra said. Sponsors will have digital ad space in the new video board and on the LED ribbon boards that run around the stadium, he said.

Existing ribbon boards at the 200 level will be replaced and new ribbon boards will be added on the east and west side of the 300 level as well, providing additional opportunities to generate revenue in advertising, according to Serra.

The larger video screens won't affect the seating bowl, Serra said.

Chicago will join the team of other NFL stadiums making video upgrades, including EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, which holds the title of having the biggest video screens in the NFL measuring 62 feet tall by 362 feet long.

Other events held at Soldier Field include concerts and college football games.

"When you look at it and in terms of holistic use of board, we use them more than a baseball field would because it's so much more than just the Bears," Serra said.

The park district is currently soliciting bids for the purchase of video boards, ribbon boards and video control room equipment. 

A contract is expected to go to the board of commissioners in November for approval. The installation of the equipment is targeted for July.

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