I am a resident of Cook County, home to the best city in the U.S.: Chicago! Chicago has a rich history of sports, considering the large rivalry between Cubs and White Sox fans. I remember when my Granny, younger brother and I would watch the Cubs play against the White Sox. Our eyes were glued to the TV. To us, this was a huge event – and the memory will stick with me forever.
Recently, the Blackhawks had a dynasty where they won three Stanley Cups in five years. And basketball also has a huge cultural influence and plays a big part in the city of Chicago. The Chicago Bulls' historic franchise won six championships and has brought pride to the city. Lastly, the Chicago Bears are the third largest market in the NFL. The Bears won a Super Bowl in 1985 and fans of the team that are still alive from that era remember it proudly.
But even with this rich history, time moves forward. And the Bears might be exiting the city of Chicago to make the move to Arlington Heights.
The Chicago Bears will most likely be leaving Soldier Field, a football stadium that is 99 years old and is one of the longest-standing in the country. The mayor of Chicago released a new video to show plans to renovate Solider Field. But the Bears management is most likely sticking with the move to Arlington heights. According to CBS Chicago, experts say there is a 90% chance the Bears will be making the move.
While this development hurts fans, it also provides an opportunity that can change the city and make everyone's lives better.
Instead of letting the stadium rot or use it for occasional events, we need to take advantage of the space and help the most vulnerable by turning Soldier Field into an affordable housing complex.
Sports stadiums have a history of being left to rot or demolished. ARCO Arena, the stadium where the Sacramento Kings used to play, serves as a great example of this. When ARCO closed in 2016, the building was left abandoned. And after six years, the building was demolished.
The Pontiac Silverdome, the stadium that was previously home to the Detroit Lions and Detroit Pistons between the years of 1975 and 2001, was abandoned for years after the Lions moved their stadium to Ford Field in 2002. The Silverdome reopened again for a few sports events, but it just didn't have the same impact the Lions did. It was officially closed in 2013 for good and demolished in 2017.
This should serve as a startling development to all of us when these spaces could be used to help those who seek shelter and housing.
Record-high inflation is the reason I’m pushing for an affordable housing complex. According to CNN Business, the average monthly rent in America is $1,879, not including the price of groceries, gas and other utilities. And in Chicago, rent prices are outrageous! According to Zillow, the average rent in Chicago is $1,925. This is unacceptable and we have the ability to challenge these high rent prices.
400,000 people are living in poverty in Chicago and are in desperate need of affordable housing. Turning Solider Field into an affordable housing complex will be great for those struggling to get by in the great city of Chicago. Solider Field has more than enough room to house those living in poverty. Colorado State University demolished its old football stadium. Their plan is to use the land to build at least 600 affordable houses. This is a great use of land Chicago should learn from.
I aim to start a petition to turn Soldier Field into an affordable housing complex. I hope to draw the attention of the current Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, city council members of Chicago, WTTW Chicago, WGN News and ABC 7 Chicago. Let’s bring hope and opportunity to those that are left behind.
Travis Washington is an IU Residence Life Coordinator for Student Development.