Chicago Bears chairman of the board George McCaskey said the team will take a more active role in the maintenance of the field at Soldier Stadium after Friday night's Family Fest was canceled to do unsafe playing conditions arose when dangerous seams occurred between rolls of recently laid sod, the result of a lack of water.
The team had to refund tickets to 10,000 fans, along with parking, and provided free food and drink.
"The park district has already said that it was a miscalculation on their part, that they need to do a better job," said McCaskey. "And we need to do a better job to take a more active role in monitoring their treatment of the field. It needs to be a collaborative effort and we're confident that it's going to be."
McCaskey said he's confident the field will be in playing condition in time for Saturday's preseason opener.
If Bears players had any say in the surface on which they competed, the "grass" at Soldier Field would have already been dug up and replaced with FieldTurf. "It was a joke," said linebacker Brian Urlacher. "I don't understand how they can't have the field ready. It (stinks) for the fans because I'm sure it was a pain in the butt to get down there with all the (Lollapalooza) traffic and everything. But I think coach (Lovie Smith) did the right thing not letting us practice on that stuff. We ended up getting a late practice in (Friday) night (at Olivet Nazarene University), but it's just too bad that it had to be that way."
The installation of FieldTurf would eliminate situations like the one that existed Friday night and also the deplorable condition of the field that occurs near the end of every season.
"I don't understand why we don't have FieldTurf yet," Urlacher said. "We're a fast team. We play fast on FieldTurf. The injury issues aren't as bad as they used to be. They've gone down a lot in the last few years with the way they've made the turf, so I don't understand it. (We should) use our speed because we know we can run. Let us get out there and run."
However, it doesn't sound like Urlacher is going to get his wish anytime soon. McCaskey said the decision on the field's surface is reviewed annually, with the driving factor being player safety.
"We want to prolong careers. We want our guys to be available on a week-to-week basis," said McCaskey. "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 primarily considering player safety is a natural grass field."
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