Wrigley Field may induce a kind of sleepy don’t-care-if-they-win-I’m-soooo-buzzed euphoria, and some of the city’s hottest accountants strip down to their Dockers and braided belts in the bleachers, but if you want authentic Chicago sports flavor, Soldier Field is the venue. Before its $365 million renovation began, Soldier Field was one of those remarkably inconvenient, perpetually wet, cramped, stunningly beautiful old arenas, a connection to a golden age of American sports. Opened in 1924, Soldier Field has hosted Army-Navy football, heavyweight title fights and World Cup soccer. Jack Dempsey, Billy Graham, Mick Jagger and Walter Payton have headlined events, and the stadium once drew 115,000 fans for the Prep Bowl, a high-school football championship. At the moment, Soldier Field is only a skeletal project site, clogged with cranes and construction trailers, but any Chicagoan worth their VHS copy of the “Super Bowl Shuffle” knows that it’s hallowed ground. When the renovation is complete, it will be a sleek multi-use facility designed to print money for the Bears and the Chicago Park District. Fine, as long as the colonnade is standing and Urlacher is still on our side.
1410 South Museum Campus Drive, (312)235-7000
Best of Chicago 2002