Chicago Venue Guide: Soldier Field Seating and History
Soldier Field Information
- New Soldier Field opened in 2003
- Capacity: 61,500 (lowest in the NFL) with seats on average of 37 feet closer to the field than the old Soldier Field
- The 400 level can seat over 7,000 fans
- Section 356 has some seats that are partially obstructed (can’t see far end zone)
- Some sections are covered and offer a little protection from the weather (see below)
- Huge video displays in both end zones measuring 23′ x 82′
- Front row of 50-yardline seats are 55 feet from the sidelines
- Gates open two hours before kickoff – security at the gate may delay your entry so plan accordingly
- There is no smoking anywhere in Soldier Field – anyone found smoking on the premises will swiftly be escorted out of the stadium
- Alcohol sales end at the conclusion of the third quarter
- Click here for a seating diagram of Soldier Field
- Parking lots open four hours before kickoff
- Tailgating is allowed in most lots that are open air – this excludes the lower level of the Waldron Garage and the North Garage
- Click here for a parking map of lots nearest to Soldier Field and click here to see the Bears Parking and Transportation Guide
The United Club is accessible only if you have seats in sections 202-216 and 301-317 (click to view map). Although your seats to watch the game are outside, you can go inside and enjoy a drink or have something to eat. Food and beverage are not complimentary, but there are many more choices offered exclusively in the United Club. The seats are 21″ wide, and you have access to a three-level indoor lounge with eight full-service bars and a pre-game buffet available for purchase (around $55/adult, $25/child). You can exit the Club and visit other parts of Soldier Field during the game, but keep your ticket with you.
The artist who did all the murals in the United Club has pictures on his blog….check it out here. Really cool.
A Brief History
After 50 years of playing at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Bears finally made the permanent move to Soldier Field in 1971. Opened in 1924 on the 53rd anniversary of the Chicago Fire, the old Soldier Field (called Municipal Grant Park Stadium, but only for one year) was built as a 45,000 seat stadium dedicated to the soldiers of World War I. Instead of catering to a single sport, it was designed as “a showcase for events and a playground for all people.”
Crowds of 100,000 were commonplace (bleacher seating for 75,000 and temporary bleachers for 30,000) back in the day as the stadium hosted myriad events including boxing, skiing, a visit from President Franklin Roosevelt (which drew 150K people in 1944), stock car races, tractor and truck pulls, rodeos, concerts, and of course, college and pro football.
A great timeline of Soldier Field can be found here on the Bears website. After you get on the page, click on the words ‘View Timeline’ that are in an orange box on the right. Click here to see what the skiers landed in at the bottom of the ski run.