Soldier Field turf?
Hey fellas, as most of you regulars know, I only started posting here (the best Bears board on the web) earlier this year, even though my "joined date" reads all the way back to 2005. I was just curious what the general opinion is about the turf at Soldier Field. This was a regular topic of discussion on my "OLD" forum as late October started rolling around. Those of you that are not from the Chicago area may not understand a few things about the issues surrounding this topic, so let me share. The Bears are actually the Tenants at Soldier Field as the City of Chicago owns and maintains it. Many have pointed fingers in the media one direction or the other for all things from the renovation, seating capacity, parking and of course, the turf. While the City owns the Stadium, the Bears are obviously the primary tenant and have significant say, but the City IS the owner and also allows special HS games and college games to be played during the season, soccer games, concerts, etc. With that said, natural turf is difficult to maintain with all this activity, especially when the weather in Chicago starts to turn in late fall.
Last year, the Chicago media reported that it was the Bears that wanted to keep the natural surface while the City would be more than willing to purchase and install a premium, State of the art artificial surface, as this would be cheaper than re-sodding 2 to 3 times a year. Jerry Angelo spoke for the Bears that they were more concerned with the health of their players and preferred the natural surface, but there are stats out there (valid or not) that suggest this is a myth considering some of the newest artificial or semi-artificial surfaces. The Bears surface is always ranked among the worst in the league every year and the Bears players themselves have complained about it. So now, with a change in the GM spot, and considering he appears to have substantial say with ownership, would you be in favor of a change or do you like natural grass?
I am almost 50 years old, so I tend to be an old school natural grass guy, but I'm also a realist. If you can't keep it maintained well as a result of climate and other activities, then I tend to lean toward a more consistent surface. I tend to think that a soft, soggy surface that will fail underneath a players cut one Sunday, and then have hard frozen divets the next Sunday has more risk than an artificial surface that is consistent across the entire field.
What say you? Should Emery try to get this corrected with a willing Municipal partner, or should we stick with sod?
You are correct, the Park District pays for the field. For the longest time people complained "The Bears are too cheap to install FieldTurf", but it isn't them who would have to pay. FieldTurf is actually MORE expensive to maintain than grass, all things considered. Lots of people don't know that, but there is a lot of machinery, chemicals and man-hours that goes into maintaining FT. There are a lot of problems with the design of Soldier Field relating to the playing surface. First off, the upper deck is so high that the field barely gets any sunlight during Oct-Jan. Also, the field is in a landfill below water level. They have pumps working around the clock to remove millions of gallons of water per hour. That certainly doesn't help. Above that all, the Park District has largely been bumbling and their crews have taken a not-ideal situation and made it worse. They had a disaster last year when family fest was cancelled due to turf separating, but after being publically humiliated, they made adjustments and the field was better last year than in previous ones.
Anyway, the Bears said they didn't want to put in FT until they were satisfied with its safety. For the past ten years we had been told it was "just as good" as natural grass. Well, a recent study found significantly more knee injuries on FT than grass. The Bears said they want to wait for more studies to be done to make sure it is safe. I think that is a good decision. Better to have guys sliding on their asses than someone tear up their knee.
"FieldTurf is actually MORE expensive to maintain than grass, all things considered. Lots of people don't know that, but there is a lot of machinery, chemicals and man-hours that goes into maintaining FT."
That would not surprise me and it makes sense. I'm going by the reports when this hit the Trib and Sun-Times last year, but I think they were comparing the costs of re-sodding the field 2 to 3 times a year to the annual cost of FT. At that time, I thought to myself, "Find the owner of the sod farm they get this from and I'll bet he's politically tied to the City." That's the way Chicago works. As I said above, I'm old school and like natural grass, but all the other events combined with the climate really play a number on it. The thing is, it can't be that hard to maintain this stuff, the Park District, for whatever reason (and you provide a number of good ones) just can't seem to get it done.
Rogelio is right when he says that the condition of field did improve after the debacle last year. I remember George McCaskey getting involved with the process and stating that they were either going to get the situation with the current provider improved or they would change providers. The groundskeepers were also called of the carpet for over watering the field as I recall.
The McCaskey's have stated that they want to keep the natural turf. Angelo stated that they've seen nothing to indicate that it was a better and safer surface. That I find hard to believe. Our weather here isn't as severe as Chicago's in late fall but the Broncos have used field turf for many years as have the Packers and those fields look immaculate even in late December.
Soldier Field held up relatively well last year but we didn't make the playoffs so it's hard telling weather or not it would have stayed that way. I prefer the natural surface as well but if they can't come up with a way of keeping the playing surface in top shape then I believe it should be replaced. It may take the NFL to force them to do it but if they continue to over use it and continue to have problems I can see that happening.
it might have been better last year, but that isn'ta huge accomplishment.
Soul, how have injuries been for the Bronc's w/that artifcial surface? I cannot think of a lot of problem w/GB guys...but I could be wrong about that.
Nothing outstanding that you could attribute to the turf. It's much better than the old Astro Turf surfaces like they used to have at Soldier Field. It feel and plays more like real grass and I don't see guys getting cleats caught up in it the way they did some year back when they first came out with stuff like this.
Originally Posted by Riczaj01
One reason I believe the Bears are resisting it is that it's still tough on knees because it doesn't have the give grass and earth do. So when you have some aging players who may begin to have knee problems they probably don't want to add to that. Plus the Bears players seem to prefer the natural surface too.
I'll say one thing though. It looks better on camera which is why the NFL perfers it and even up close you can't tell the difference between it and natural grass.
Well long gone are the days of the "Astroturf," and thankfully so. (Just saying that name out loud can cause rug burn.)
The FieldTurf used now days seems like a vast improvement, and I can believe that the maintenance costs might be higher than grass. I have not been exposed to what's out there, but I’m sure the disinfection, rubber infill, etc. is not cheap. I might be wrong, but from what I see from the tele… I would not be surprised if even the field markings have to be touched up before a game, because when I watch a player drag their feet on a sideline pass, I see a lot of colored rubber in the air these days. Also, like carpet, I imagine it has its own shelf life.
Look at how much advancement they have made on artificial putting surfaces and range mats, the soles of my golf clubs no longer turn green... Lot different than those indoor/outdoor mats I used to set out on the patio.
I like the idea of grass, but it’s not a deal breaker for me. I’d go along with whichever the players and coaches prefer.
The real question is if how hard it is compared to grass in the winter. Both should be plenty soft and gentle on the knees during the summer/fall. But winter it's all rock hard. I thought GB had a system to keep their turf thawed though; not sure if you could do that w/grass.
Originally Posted by soulman
Lambeau Field has had that system for years even before they installed the Field Turf. They have hot water pipes under the playing surface that radiate heat just like radiant heat in a house does. I think Soldier Field has something in the way of a system like that too. I don't think any of the Northern stadiums have frozen turf in the winter months any longer. No more "Ice Bowl" or "Sneakers" games.
Originally Posted by Riczaj01
If the Packers can keep a field in good shape in the same climate ....... There's other places in Chicago where they can have events : Gately Stadium, Hanson Stadium etc.
It's ridiculous that our guys have to play on a field that looks like someone went over it with a roto-tiller.