Get to Know the Venue: Soldier Field

Soldier Field, Chicago’s War Memorial Stadium, opened on October 9, 1924 as Municipal Grant Park Stadium, but was renamed to its current name on November 11, 1925 in honor of all that were lost during World War I. The first major event that was held here was a boxing match between Jack Tunney and Gene Dempsey for the World Heavyweight Championship. The Long Count Fight was the first event in sports with a gate od $1 Million. The stadium didn’t have a tenant until 1971, when the Chicago Bears moved in after spending the last 50 years at Wrigley Field. When the Bears moved in, the stadium was renovated to seat 65,000. In 1994, Soldier Field was the site of the opening match in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. However, by the end of the 20th century, Soldier Field was becoming extremely outdated (by modern standards). In 2001, Soldier Field was heavily renovated, basically building a modern stadium within the existing footprint (between the east and west columns), When the stadium reopened, it seats 61,500; at the time, the smallest capacity in the NFL. Since then, Soldier Field has hosted 2 NFC Championship games, 2 CONCACAF Gold Cup Finals, a Notre Dame football game (as part of the Shamrock Series), the inaugural Hockey City Classic, and numerous concerts to mention. When the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks meet tomorrow night, Chicago will become the first city to host two NHL outdoor games. And this game will be the biggest game in Blackhawks history, surpassing the 2009 Winter Classic by over 20,000. Out of the all the Stadium Series matchups, this game is the most anticipated, mainly because these are two of the best teams in the NHL: featuring the names (Toews, Kane, Malkin, Crosby), the passionate fanbases, a potential preview of a matchup in the Stanley Cup Final, and the first primetime regular-season game broadcasted on NBC. It simply just cannot be better than this.

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