How To Save Big Money At Soldier Field

Soldier Field
By John Picken (Flickr: Soldier Field, Chicago) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s not easy being a fan of the Chicago Bears:

  • Soldier Field ticket prices and parking are among the highest
  • Jay Cutler was your quarterback for the 8 years
  • The real cost index for 2015 was $1409.

Soldier Field ticket prices

That’s right - based on secondary market prices, it cost over $1400 for a family of 4 to take in a single Bears game in 2015.

And for a team coming off a 5-win season, no less.

What’s even worse is that the weekly median household income for a Chicago resident that year was $1214*, so the real cost index was 29% of the monthly income, or about what most people spend on rent.

Top 5 Real Cost Ratios 2015
Team/City Monthly Income1 Real Cost Index %
Green Bay $4219 $1529 36.25
New England $6062 $1922 31.71
Chicago $4858 $1409 29.00
New Orleans $3719 $1068 28.72
Denver $5406 $1486 27.49
1U.S. median household income for 2015

Here’s what it comes down to - being a fan of Da Bears is neither easy nor cheap, so here are…

Cost cutting tips for Soldier Field


Secondary market ticket prices are of course based upon demand, and two of the biggest factors that influence that demand are team success/performance, and weather. And since the majority of NFL teams don’t make the playoffs and don’t have domed stadiums, it’s a fact that collectively, resale ticket prices always decrease as the season wears on.

You should try:   Waiting before you buy tickets. On the whole this is not original strategy, but if you want Bears tickets for less, it’s a good - and safe, idea:

2010 11-5 +7.34%
2011 8-8 -11.52%
2012 10-6 +4.53%
2013 8-8 -3.58%
2014 5-11 -57.78%
2015 6-10 -16.24%
2016 3-13 -49.36%

The column on the right is the change in resale ticket prices from the start of the regular season to the end.

Predictably, the only 2 instances that the prices rose was the only 2 winning seasons on the list. But even then, the increase was no more than 7%, while prices dropped as much as 57% for the other seasons.

Why is this? My guess is that their resale ticket prices at the start of the season are not only high, they’re oddly high. Teams that had the top 5 initial secondary market ticket costs for 2016 according to TicketIQ, along with their won-loss record for the previous season:

Seattle $459 10-6
New England $447 12-4
Denver $399 12-4
Green Bay $371 10-6
Chicago $362 6-10

Like I said, odd. The Bears were the only top 5 team to not make it to the post season and have a losing record. And this is not a one-year oddity, either -- their initial resale prices have been among the top five for the last four years. The average record for the Bears over that period is 7-9. The other 15 teams? 11-5.

Basically it seems that the Bears home game ticket prices are so high at the onset that there is more room to go down than there is to go up.

Can you really get cheap NFL tickets?

Avoid like the plague:   Packers games. Sure, the Bears vs. Packers is one of the most historical rivalries in all of sports, but is it worth the cost? In 2014, the average ticket price for the week 4 game against the Packers in Chicago at one point was a mind-blowing, eye-popping $666.


Soldier Field parking passes are $49 at face value, and can easily go for 2-3 times as much second hand.

You should try:

  • ParkWhiz - Find prime spots close to the stadium for pennies on the dollar, some of which even allow tailgating. Talk about a no-brainer.
  • Street parking - There’s ample street parking within a mile of Chicago Bears Stadium for $2-$4 per hour.

For a full list of Soldier Field parking options, go here.

Avoid like the plague:   Buying parking passes from an online ticket broker. Like I said, they can typically charge $150 or more.

Food & Beer

Most NFL stadiums have overpriced food & beer. Soldier Field is no different”
Instead of paying $10.50 at the stadium for an imported (from Wisconsin, no less) draft beer, $9.25 for a Ditka Dog, or $18 for a prime rib sandwich…

You should try:
  • Timothy O’Toole’s - An 11 ounce, 8.19 ABV Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is just 6 bucks. There are several good, moderately cheap sports bars near the stadium, but as far as I know, this is the only one that offers a shuttle ride on game day. The downside is that you’ll have to park on the street, but the $30 ($20 for 5 hours near 519 N Michigan Ave) you’ll pay for street parking & the shuttle ($10) is still a great deal compared to what a Chicago Bears stadium parking pass can cost you online.
  • Kim & Carlo’s Hot Dog Stand - $4 for a Chicago-style hot dog. Located on the north side of the stadium near the Field Museum.
  • Jim’s Original - A Pork Chop sandwich (fries included) is only $3.95, Vienna Beef Hot Dog is $2.60.

Avoid like the plague:   The Arena Club’s The Kickoff Tailgate Party. Ok, maybe not like the plague. And $59 ($79 for full bar upgrade) for this “high end” tailgate package isn’t all that bad. But this is something to consider if you’re hosting a corporate party or you want to impress someone, not if you have a budget to stick to.

Add your expert review

As a service to fellow Chicago Bears fans, won't you please review some of the places mentioned above? Or you can add your own, either by commenting here or editing the map.

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