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Have you ever tried to attend a sporting event, family fun day, or other event at a stadium and found the relevant ‘family information’ scattered across multiple websites and in no particular order? I have. And it’s annoying. Families and children want to attend events at stadiums and stadiums have policies that are relevant to bringing children to their facilities- so why then is it so difficult to round up this information?? Attending an event at Soldier Field with kids can be very enjoyable! But there are some policies and rules that you should be aware of prior to arriving.
This post will review the policies and rules for Soldier Field that pertain to families. There are also policies and rules specific to individual events held at Soldier Field- I will not cover those (as there are an endless number of events held at Soldier Field each year); however, I will cover children’s info as it relates to the Chicago Bears. I have been to Soldier Field twice with my son. The first time he was 7 months old and the second time he was 2 years old. My biggest concerns were the diaper bag and where would I breastfeed? In addition to information and resources I will give you anecdotal tips based on my two experiences.
General Information About Soldier Field
What is Soldier Field?
Soldier Field is a stadium located in Chicago, Illinois. It is currently home to the Chicago Bears NFL team. The stadium used to be a National Historic Landmark, however, that designation was stripped in 2002 when the stadium was renovated. The stadium is an iconic landmark along the Chicago Skyline and sits alongside the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium which make up Chicago’s museum campus.
Where is Soldier Field?
Soldier Field is located just south of the Field Museum of Natural History, along Lake Michigan at 18th Street. It is east of Lake Shore drive and part of Chicago’s museum campus.
How to get to Soldier Field?
From Outside of the City
If you are already in the city great, however, if you need to get into the city you can drive, take the Metra (train) or take the Soldier Field Express bus. You can take the Metra from virtually anywhere in the Chicago suburbs (one line even runs into Wisconsin). Here is a link to where Metra runs. The Soldier Field Express runs from Rolling Meadows, Bolingbrook, Palos Heights and Hillside. You can find more information about the Soldier Field Express here.
Driving to Soldier Field
The easiest (and most expensive way) to get to Soldier Field is to drive. Soldier Field’s physical address is 1410 S. Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, IL 60605. You can input that into your GPS or simply type in Soldier Field. If you are visiting Soldier Field for a Bears game you can find info on parking here. If you are visiting Soldier Field for another event then visit the Soldier Field Parking website for rates as the lots will have varying prices. The North Garage is the lot adjacent to Soldier Field; if you can swing it I would park in this lot when bringing kids to Soldier Field.
Public Transportation or Walking
If you already find yourself downtown then you can take public transportation or walk.
The walk is nice but it will take you about 40 minutes from the Macy’s/Millennium Park area. You head south into Grant Park, down Columbus Dr., towards Roosevelt Rd. (12th Street). There will be signs for museum campus- follow those. The walk through Grant Park is beautiful and it will bring you to an underpass that weaves its way under Lake Shore Drive. The tunnel is located in the Southeast corner of Grant Park. Once you emerge on the east side of Lake Shore Drive the walkway will lead you first to the Field Museum and then to Soldier Field.
If you’d like to take public transportation from Downtown Chicago then you can take the 146 or the 6 bus. The 146 will take you to Museum Campus but the 6 will drop you off on Columbus Dr. and you’ll have to walk under Lake Shore Drive. If you want to know how to get from A to B in downtown Chicago via public transportation you can use Google Maps or the Chicago Transit Authorities ‘plan a trip’ function. Once you know what bus or train you need then you can download the Chicago Transit Tracker App or use their website to see when the train or bus will be arriving at your stop. For general information here is the website for the Chicago transit authority’s ‘Travel Information’ page.
Stadium Policies & Information
Once you have arrived visiting Soldier Field with kids can be lots of fun! The 4 things that I wanted to know before I visited Soldier Field were (1) the diaper bag policy, (2) where I could nurse my baby?, (3) the changing table situation, and (4) the re-entry policy. Here is a link to Soldier Field’s A-Z Guide on visiting (it’s their version of an FAQ).
The bag policy for Soldier Field is pretty clear; what’s not clear is the diaper bag policy. The website states that you can bring (1) a clear plastic bag no more than 12x6x12 inches, (2) a one gallon Ziploc bag, (2) or a small clutch. Here is a clear plastic bag that will pass muster. You can also get bags with NFL teams logos printed on them. You can find the bag policy in the A-Z guide or you can check out this page which has pictures.
The first time that we attended an event at Soldier Field with our baby he was 7 months old. We brought a blue backpack as our diaper bag and we had no problems getting in. The second time we visited Soldier Field with our son he was 2 years old and we brought a clear bag. However, I saw someone with a ginormous black backpack as a diaper bag. When we entered the stadium I inquired about the diaper bag policy (as there is no mention of diaper bags anywhere on soldierfield.net) and I was told that you could bring a non-clear bag; however, I was advised that a clear bag was preferred. The security lady also suggested that it may depend on the security personnel present as to whether they’d permit your non-clear diaper bag.
I *think* we would have been fine with a dark diaper bag but I’d try it at your own risk. If you do bring a non-clear diaper bag I’d suggest parking in Lot A as it’s adjacent to the stadium and you could run and drop the bag in the car or transfer items to a smaller, clear bag.
Nursing Stations & Lactation Pods:
Beginning in September 2018 Nursing Stations and Lactation Pods became available at Soldier Field. To be clear, under Illinois law you can nurse your baby or toddler anywhere that you’d like. You can nurse your child in your seat or at one of the numerous chairs on the concourses. If you’d feel more comfortable with a little privacy you can check out one of the Nursing/Lactation pods. In addition to nursing in the pod you can also pump in the pod. There are nursing stations or pods located at the following locations:
- Dr. Pepper Patio/South Courtyard
- Gate 25 on the Lower Level Mezzanine
- 1st Aid Offices near Gate 17
- United Club Level 300
- Family Restroom in the United Club Level 100
My first visit to Soldier Field I was extremely nervous about nursing at Soldier Field. Baby Bear wasn’t really on solid food yet and he still needed to be nursed to sleep for nap. So when it was time for nap I took him to some concrete stairs and nursed him to sleep under a blanket. The second time we were there I nursed him to sleep in a chair along the United Club concourse. I just found a chair in a corner and sat there until Baby bear woke up. I did not know about the pods or I would have used them.
All restrooms at Soldier Field are equipped with baby changing stations. Additionally, there are 14 family restrooms throughout the stadium. They are located near sections 121, 146, 154, 320, 354, 435, 437, 439, the United Club 100 level, and sections 202 and 216.
You cannot leave and re-enter Soldier Field.
Soldier Field Children’s Garden
The Soldier Field Children’s Garden is a playground located just northeast of Soldier Field. The Garden boasts a jungle gym and imagery in the same vein as the surrounding museums. Many events will have activities for children prior to the event but in case yours does not the Children’s Garden is a great place for kids to burn energy!
Additional Tips for Visiting Soldier Field with a Baby or a Toddler
- Strollers: You cannot bring a stroller into Soldier Field. If you are attending a Bears game then you can check the stroller at Gate 8 or at the 100 Level of the United Club (through October). See the ‘Prohibited Items’ here to see the most current policy on checking a stroller.
- Food: You can bring outside food into the stadium so long as it does not violate the Soldier Field or Chicago Bears prohibited items or bag rules.
- Blanket: If you are attending an event at Soldier Field in the fall or winter then I would recommend bringing a blanket to keep the baby or toddler warm.
- Re-entry: Remember that you cannot leave and re-enter so make sure you have everything that you will need prior to entry.
- Baby-wearing: If you have small children I recommend baby-wearing!! My motto is ‘Wear that Baby!’ I still wear my toddler, if for no other reasons than containment and nap.
- Noise Cancelling Ear Muffs: If you are going to attend a loud event (most events at Soldier Field have the potential to get loud) I would recommend getting some noise canceling ear-muffs. Here is a link to the ones that we use.
The Chicago Bears
If you are visiting Soldier Field to attend a Bears game then there are lots of activities (besides football) for kids! Here is a link to the Bears A-Z Guide. Here is the following information that you need to know that pertain to families:
Children less than 32” tall are permitted entry inside Soldier Field without a ticket provided they obtain a complimentary lap pass prior to entry. You can obtain the lap pass at the Gate 10 Ticket Office and the child must be present. There is a limit of one lap pass per adult.
Crib Club & Kids Club:
The Crib Club is open to Bears fans aged 0-4 and can be personalized for either a baby (0-2) or a toddler (3-4). The Kids Club is open to fans aged 5-12. Membership is free; however, if you want any gear then it’s $20. For more information check out the Bears kid zone page here.
Family Friendly Alcohol Free Lots:
This is just what it sounds like. No debaucherous tailgating going on here. You will also have to walk a bit to get to the stadium but if this is important to you it’s an option. There are two alcohol-free lots; one is the lot south of the Adler Planetarium and the second is the 31st Street Beach Lot. You can walk from the 31st street beach (~40-minute walk); however, there is also a shuttle available. The walk to Soldier Field from the south Adler lot is quicker (~15-minute walk). Click here for the current policies and shuttle information.
This is a program in which you sign a pledge stating that you will not drink during the game and in return you get a ticket for a free soda. Many stadiums have similar programs but what sets this program apart is that you will be entered into a sweepstakes to win a trip to the Pro Bowl or the Super Bowl!!
If your child is a runner or if you are worried about getting separated from them the stadium provides identification wristbands for children at all Fan Services booths.
Meijer Chicago Bears End Zone:
This event provides family friendly activities and games, including alumni appearances and photo ops, prior to each pre-season home game. The event opens 2.5 hours prior to kickoff and closes ½ hour prior to kickoff. This event is free.
I hope that this article has encouraged you to get out and attend an event at Soldier Field. Visiting somewhere like Soldier Field, with the crowds and the grandeur of the place, can be intimidating. With a bit of planning and preparation, it’s totally manageable and actually fun!
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