Although Soldier Field is the smallest NFL stadium in the nation, it still has more than 60,000 fans. And with three sold-out shows from Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” at the current home of the Chicago Bears, it’s a venue that brings with it quite a challenge to get in and out.
Whether you’re a Swiftie attending the show, on duty for drop-off or pick-up, or just planning to spend time downtown this weekend, this is your transportation guide for getting around the museum campus on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. .
Each night of Swift’s show, gates open at 4:30 p.m., but merchandise outside the stadium will be available starting at noon and parking lots will open at 2 p.m. each day.
This brings us to our first option: Drive and park. However, if you haven’t already purchased a parking pass for the shows ahead of time, you’re out of luck. “Parking lots are currently sold out due to advance parking sales,” Soldier Field says.
If you have a parking pass, great! Getting in is not a problem as everyone arrives at their own time. But beware: with 63,500 guests at each show, getting out can take a long time.
There are also other parking lots nearby.
You can reserve parking spots at McCormick Place Lot B, as well as the Millennium and South Grant Park Garages, and the Millennium Park Garage offers a shuttle to and from the stadium. The shuttle will operate in lower Randolph and will pick up fans at Metra Stairs 18 between 4 p.m. and 1 a.m.
The Grant Park South, Grant Park North and Millennium Lakeside garages will not offer shuttle service.
Rideshare Pickup & Delivery
Another option: take a cab, a shared ride (think Uber or Lyft), or have a parent, companion, friend, or driver drop you off and pick you up. But keep in mind that this option involves two different pick-up and drop-off points that are often controlled by local traffic control personnel.
Returns occur in a turn, at 18th Street West of Lake Shore Drive, and from there it’s a short walk to Soldier Field. However, due to heavy traffic, Soldier Field officials are tossing the idea to drivers of dropping fans off on Columbus Drive or Michigan Avenue and then having them walk to the museum campus.
For post-show pickup, the Swifties must make the trip north of the stadium to Columbus and Balbo.
“We encourage parents and chaperones to use this area for quick gatherings with family and friends,” a statement from Soldier Field states. “Drivers can use the alphabetical signal markers to provide identifiers to guests. Stadium security and parking staff will be present to provide a safe and organized operation.”
If you plan to carpool, keep prices in mind. I spoke to a livery driver who confirmed that most rideshare services will have a price increase for the three nights.
Something else to keep in mind, however you plan to get to the stadium: wear comfortable shoes.
You’ll need walking shoes if you plan to take the CTA, which is the cheapest option for Solder Field, at $5 for 24 hours of travel.
The CTA Roosevelt stop, where the Red, Orange, and Green lines converge, is the closest CTA option, with a quarter-mile walk to Soldier Field. In addition, CTA has added additional #130 and #146 buses and Red Line train service to and from Soldier Field, the stadium says.
The Metra station, at Ogilvie and Union, is a longer walk, but many seasoned suburban concertgoers with events like Lollapalooza often take a rideshare or Metra cab to reach the 18th Street drop-off point. Metra spokesman Mike Gillis told NBC Chicago in an email that “we are not currently planning any (service) changes, other than some longer trains.”
Taylor Swift’s shows aren’t the only event this weekend
The Bank of America 13.1 Chicago Half Marathon takes place Sunday morning at Garfield Park on the city’s west side. And while the race itself is far from Lakefront, the package pickup is a two-day event in the South Loop neighborhood. Those runners and fitness enthusiasts will also use the Roosevelt CTA Station on Saturday and Sunday to get their packages at the Roosevelt Collection, located at 150 W. Roosevelt Rd.
Just east of the museum’s campus at Huntington Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island, Two Friends is scheduled to perform on Friday. On the South Side, the White Sox will be in town all weekend, hosting the Detroit Tigers.
And for the thousands of other people in Chicago, it’s just another summer weekend.