Iconic Soldier Field isn’t just the home of the Chicago Bears, it’s the largest memorial to soldiers in the United States. The Bears didn’t move in until 1971, but the historic stadium has been used since its opening in 1924 for football, soccer, hockey, and rugby games, concerts, religious ceremonies, war shows, the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair, international summits, and speeches and rallies for figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Douglas MacArthur.
If you aren’t attending a game or concert at Soldier Field, it’s worth taking one of the tours available to the public. You can find a tour schedule on the official website. They cost US$15 for adults (as of September 2017). Tours begin outside Gate 1 on the south side of the stadium.
Beginning of the Tour
The first part of the tour visits the South Courtyard. Along the wall of the courtyard are stone benches with imprints of falling leaves, which represent fallen soldiers. Real Medals of Honor are embedded into the benches.
Next, you visit the Doughboy Statue. This statue was once displayed in a public park in Chicago, but repeated vandalism saw it removed and later, fittingly, relocated to Soldier Field. It depicts a World War I infantryman, or Doughboy, advancing through No Man’s Land.
While standing at the statue, the guide points out a black stripe splitting the courtyard in half (you can spot it in the picture below). On the outside of the line, everything from the original 1924 construction of Soldier field was left untouched. Everything inside the line was renovated in 2004.
After a short walk upstairs to the seats behind the south end zone, everyone was asked to take a seat. We then watched a short video about the history of Soldier Field with Chicago Bears legend Mike Ditka as a special guest.
When the video finished, we were escorted onto the playing field but were not allowed to walk on the grass. We walked the length of the field to the visitor’s tunnel.
Visitor’s Locker Room
The visitor’s tunnel led to the visitor’s locker room. The guide compared it to a three star hotel while the Bears’ locker room is a five star hotel. We were given a few minutes to walk through the locker room and bathrooms. Some player jerseys and helmets were placed in a few of the lockers for guests to take pictures with.
After that, it was a short walk through the tunnels to an elevator where we were taken to the suite level.
The Skyline Suite offers unmatched views of Soldier Field and the Chicago skyline. Ticket prices are ridiculous, but it seems like it would be quite an experience to attend a game in the suite.
The tour ended at the colonnade on the east side of the stadium. The colonnades are an original feature of the stadium built in 1924.
Before we left the guide pointed out a section of concrete seating. This marked the highest point of the seating at the original Soldier Field. I remember sitting near these seats at a Bears game as a boy back in 1989.