Chicago Sun-Times

Players' survey sacks Soldier Field

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TAMPA, Fla.--Let the debate about the playing surface at Soldier Field continue.

The NFL Players Association released its 2008 Playing Surfaces Opinion Survey Thursday and once again the Bears' homefield did poorly.

The leaguewide survey conducted during team meetings between September and November named Soldier Field the fourth-worst grass playing field in the NFL, ahead of only Pittsburgh, Oakland and Miami. The three best were Arizona, Tampa Bay and San Diego. It wasn't just road teams that were dogging the surface. Bears players chose Soldier Field as the worst grass surface in the league.

Fifty-two Bears players responded to the question what do you attribute the condition of your game field to?

21 (40.4 percent) replied the grounds crew, which is a joint operation between the team and the Chicago Park District, which runs the stadium

5 (9.6 percent) replied the stadium manager, which would be the park district

18 (34.6 percent) replied ownership

2 (3.8 percent) replied all of the above

6 (11.5 percent) replied not applicable

The team's grounds chief Ken Mrock scored high marks as 81.6 of the responders reported that they "strongly valued" the work of their grounds crew on game and practice fields. There were 12.2 percent that responded they ``somewhat valued'' the work and no one replied that they "did not value" the work.

The survey is done every two years by the NFLPA and it shows how the field has gotten worse. Here is how the Bears' homefield stacked up in the past:

2006 5th worst grass field
2004 18th worst field (there was no distinction between turf and grass prior to 2006)
2002 15th worst field (Memorial Stadium in Champaign)
2000 7th worst
1998 7th worst
1996 9th worst
1994 6th worst

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It still beats artificial turf. Hands down!

Apparently, building a new statium didn't fix the problem and nor was grass condition even considered. How much did this statium cost?

Sorry, I answered my own question at the following site...grass wasn't even considered but they sure talked up a storm about everything else...

I blame the ownership and Ted Phillips for not fixing this problem.

It beats the old artificial turf, not the new field turf.

I've been to a few games late in the season, it's not even grass in some places. It's painted dirt. I much rather them get field turf than this junk, its embarrassing to the city.

I really hate; "when father was a boy stories" BUT in the dark ages we use to play tackle football, without equipment, on the streets of Oak Park. The NFL worries about the condition of the grass? Give me a break. They don't seem to worry about scum like Michael Vick, Paxcman Jones, etc. being members of their precious league. That's why I very seldom watch games. Have been a Bears fan since the late 1930's but now, who cares?

I've followed behind some pretty shoddy Carpenters in my work career, and I questioned the quality that this one guy did on one of his miter cuts. His reply..." putty & paint, make it what it ain't!". Seems to apply to soldier field grass!

This is fair and reasonable critisism that is deserved.

They can have a good grass field. All it takes is, not that much, time, money, and "want to". Expensive? Compared to what? The financial value of the entertainment organization called the Chicago Bears probably has a billion, that's billion with a "B", dollars in sight. The playing field is their primary stage where they play in front of the whole country. And they argue about how to split the maintenance cost of a few hundred thousand? Do the math and the argument is ridiculous.

And don't tell me it's too cold. That is a solvable problem. Arizona has a natural grass field that is on rails so that they can roll it from inside to outside to find the best place to maintain the turf in a desert. They move the whole field like a giant potted plant!!!!! Are you telling me that Chicago and it's Bears can't find a technical solution to a decent playing surface?

I live in the south now, but I think Chicago needs to be talked about for their state-of-the-art, second to none, natural grass football field. Right now they are in the conversation for the worst in the league, trying to hide their problems with a guy with a spray paint can in one hand, and a shovel in the other.

The grass and the elements make football what it is. Who wants to just watch football in boring Domes. This adds to the fun of the game and makes it challenging for coaches and players on game day. The conditions are what make it what it is. Rain games= fun, Snow games= more fun, Grass games = football.

KEEP THE GRASS and quit crying.


Something is bogus. What player would prefer to play on artificial turf? Keep Soldier Field grass, it attracts players that otherwise would not even interview here.

Tomk4054 wrote:
"KEEP THE GRASS and quit crying...GO BEARS."


I want grass too. But Soldier Field is painted dirt in the second half of the season. That too is not grass; that's the compliant. It is reasonable request.

Can't argue with someone who says: GO BEARS, you obviously have good taste.

I love the grass at soldier field, and how it's worn down by the end of the year. That's what football is all about. I hope they keep it the way it is. Forget about that fake grass up at Lambeau.

This is a non-story, of course the fields in the warm weather cities are better, hell they don't freeze up in the winter, and the grass is still growing while they are playing on it.....ours dies out, and besides this is part of the mystique of playing in Chicago in the really must be Super Bowl week if this is what you got Brad..........

MD Kevin I agree with you as well.


You cannot have Grass when it is freezing or below freezing. The Bears do not play on Grass in December as most of it has died off and gets dug up by play. Everyone loves grass but I would Rather have the new turf for an entire season, then grass for half a season and frozen mud for the other half.

Soilder Field is the most expensive eye sore in the NFL so I do not think the owners being cheap had anything to do with the bad field, rather than the harsh weather conditions in Chicago. 623 million dollars for an eye sore and frozen mud. 380 plus million paid by Il. tax payers. Remember when the Bears threatened to move unless we paid for it. So remember whenever the poor multi million dollar babies start crying about the grass, thats your grass there crying about. If the Bears need heaters to keep the field warm, maybe they could hire the former Govornor, he needs work and has enough hot air to go around.

Our favorite teams play 50 percent of their regular season games on their home field. Why on earth, would someone argue that they want their favorite team to play on painted dirt. This can clearly contribute to the physical health of our team. Remember the year, the bears played at U of I? Half the team was on injured reserve by the end of the year. A professional football team should be playing on the best surface possible. Not a surface run by the Chicago park district!
The park district in Chicago is a complete joke. I grew up playing baseball on dirt/gravel (Oriole Park) fields on the NW side. Then one year we got clay... which they dumped right on top of the dirt and gravel. You have any idea how hard it is to field a grounder on a surface composed of dirt/gravel/clay. I think I still have bruises from 12 years ago.
By the end of last season, the field looked terrible, like it was a pop warner park district field. Lets go Bears, time to get your act together.

there has to be a way to keep the grass and make the field more durable. this is a big problem at any rate and the ownership should not have any qualms about spending the money necessary to fix it. figure it out, fellas.


One real problem I have noticed is that Soldier Field is used to too many people and groups for concerts, college and high school games and the such. Few if any other NFL teams share their field with so many groups that leave the field in less than top condition. I believe the NFL must set a standard for field conditons and if the stadium cannot meet the standard it would be de-certified for league play. Chicago needs a NFL field not a Chicago Stadium.

Boo Hoo Bears.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on January 29, 2009 9:30 PM.

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