Soldier Field GM: Turf will be ready for Bears

August 8, 2011 3:25:27 PM PDT
Chicago Park District officials say the field at Soldier Field is now ready to go for Saturday's opening pre-season game against the Buffalo Bills.

On Friday night, poor field conditions forced the late cancellation of Family Fest at Soldier Field, upsetting many fans.

"All we really need to do was get water back on it Friday night. As you can see the field has restored itself and we're pretty much ready to go for Saturday," said Tim Lefevour, Soldier Field general manager.

The Soldier Field grounds crew was hard at work Monday making sure that when the Bears arrive this weekend that there isn't a repeat of last Friday -- Family Fest was cancelled after officials realized the seams on the recently laid down sod had opened up posing a danger to players. Lefevour took responsibility for the problem.

"What we try and do for a game is firm the field up so the players get the best footing and at times that means drying the field down," Lefevour said.

The incident, which was a huge disappointment to fans, who hoped to see the Bears practice, brings up what's been a recurring issue at Soldier Field, which one of the few football stadiums that still uses natural grass. While some players have expressed a desire to go to artificial turf, and the park district itself, which owns Soldier Field, would prefer it, the Bears organization and a majority of the players don't.

"The evaluation is ongoing. Every year we take a look at it. Our considered opinion is that right now, the best surface for our team, considering player safety, is a natural grass field," said George McCaskey, Chicago Bears Chairman.

"It is what it is. It's not the best turf in America as you can see," said Chris Harris, Chicago Bears safety. "Personally I like playing on grass compared to turf, but I don't like playing on Soldier Field grass compared to stadium turf."

So if the choice is to keep natural grass, is there a way to prevent this from happening again? McCaskey said Monday that they plan on taking a more active role in overseeing the conditions at Soldier Field, which is something Soldier Field management says they welcome, but add that at the end of the day, grass is grass.

"We're in a northern climate city," Lefevour said. "Three times a year we resod the field. Players come out and see seams and changes and want to see a field that stays the same from the start of the season to the end. There is no grass that I know of out there that can hold out to a 350-pound man 10 or 11 times a year."


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