If the Chicago Bears really do decamp to the suburbs, what happens to Soldier Field and everything around it?
Delivering on a promise she made back in September when the Bears announced their purchase of the Arlington International Racecourse property, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has announced the members of a working group tasked with reimagining the city’s lakefront museum campus.
“The museum campus is an integral part of Chicago and a huge contributor to our city’s culture and economy,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “In order to maximize the benefits of its valuable assets, as well as address larger issues about the campus, recommendations from dedicated and talented community leaders are absolutely necessary.”
The 57-acre campus encompasses a number of long-standing cultural institutions — the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium — the CEOs of which have been included in the working group.
The Shedd recently announced a $500 million transformation planned to coincide with its centennial in 2030. And the Adler, which has remained closed since the early days of the pandemic in 2020, is set to reopen in March, when it will show off its new telescope and observation park.
Though Soldier Field is also a cornerstone of the campus, the Bears ownership has not been invited to participate in the working group.
“The Bears are tenants and it’s not appropriate to have them on the working group,” mayoral spokesman Cesar Rodriguez told WTTW News.
Along with athletic and cultural facilities, the museum campus is home to a number of parks and natural areas, including Northerly Island and 12th Street Beach. Representatives from Friends of the Parks and the conservation organization Openlands are also members of the working group.
Richard Price, chairman and CEO of the financial services firm Mesirow, will lead the working group in developing a set of recommendations by this summer, targeting year-round uses both for tourists and residents.
Heather Cherone contributed to this report.