Lincicome: Maybe they ought to tear down Soldier Field and start over

Soldier Field will always be Soldier Field no matter its fate, just as Guaranteed Rate Field is still Sox Park and that tall building in the middle of town is Sears Tower.

Memories linger regardless of new money or big plans, both of which are welcome.

Oh, I suppose a couple of generations hence things could change but I'm guessing the United Center will be the United Center even if it should become the Arena the way the Staples Center did in Los Angeles.

American Airlines Arena, to note another crypto incursion, is now FTX Arena in Miami with no one having any more idea what FTX means than the Steelers fans in Pittsburgh know what Acrisure is.

Naming rights are a handy cash resource for sports venues, but really are just so much couch change in the big picture. For example, the United Center rights fee is around $5 million a year, which doesn't pay for a month of Zach LaVine's time.

The most recent proposal to keep the Bears in Soldier Field advises naming rights fees as a significant revenue source, not fooling anybody that everything would be paid for by taxes.

And yet a name change to Soldier Field seems more intolerable than increasing the already daily tariff of life in the big city and environs. Somehow, the idea that Soldier Field becoming Google Park or McDonald's Place (Think not? There is an arena in Louisville called the KFC Yum! Center) is a gross disrespect to all the brave defenders of America's freedom, even though only the soldiers are above the title.

This is complete nonsense, of course, and I speak as a former defender of our nation. I never once have given a single thought to the honor paid me by the Chicago Park District.

Soldier Field is its own brand, like Yankee Stadium, or the Rose Bowl, Wrigley Field as well, though you wonder how long the Ricketts clan will pass on a chance to further monetize that treasure.

Changing Wrigley much more and it will lose its recent inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, just as Soldier Field did when it lost its place as "outstanding historical significance" the last time the Bears held it hostage.

"We are doing what we believe is making a compelling case for the Chicago Bears to stay in Chicago," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. "A revitalized Soldier Field makes the most economical sense for that storied franchise."

We'll see, say the Bears, unimpressed.

Few non-commercialized stadiums or arenas exist today, invariably named after beer and sodas, gambling houses and banks and insurance companies, automakers and ... well, anything that is for sale or for hire.

The artist's renderings of what a new stadium would look like are impressive, including the one that has already named the place the Chicago Dome. If such a place existed would the Super Bowl or the Final 4 or World Cup, nay, even the Olympics, any of the coveted events come? Probably so. But the same is true of any imaginative creation at Arlington Park.

The most sensible solution might be to just tear down Soldier Field and start over. The lake will still be there, the skyline, and better parking, it is assumed.

They've torn down the Orange Bowl, where I first fought deadlines, trash before I knew it was gone. I saw my favorite of all ballparks, old Comiskey, with its goofy roof and its elegant arches framing yet more ball fields beyond, turned into a parking lot.

My very first ballpark, the place where I stepped from the dank darkness beneath up and into the sun, where I first saw the bright theater of baseball, is no more and is unmourned, old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.

Crosley Field, too, is gone for a freeway, with its odd outfield where balls had to be caught running uphill, its replacement since replaced also.

By my count, I have covered baseball in 17 ballparks that no longer exist. Football and basketball are another count. In each case the replacement is better, for convenience, for comfort, for aroma.

Wherever, suburbs or city, there's nothing like that new stadium smell.

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