In what can only be called a total and utter embarrassment to the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Bears, Family Fest has been cancelled due to poor field conditions at Soldier Field. Family Night is a practice at Soldier Field to allow fans to get a closer look at the Bears as they prepare for the regular season. This is a ticketed event that was supposed to take place on Friday night.
Just as the gates were supposed to open to the public, word started leaking about the coaching staff’s concern over conditions of the turf. For anyone not in Chicago, Friday was a picture perfect summer day with seasonable temperatures and no rain. In fact, July was a record setting month for rain and grass all over Chicagoland is as green and lush as it could be. The last event in Soldier Field was a soccer game between the Chicago Fire and Manchester United on July 22nd.
Keep in mind that the Chicago Bears are just a tenant of Soldier Field, which is run by the Chicago Park District. What the park district has been doing since July 22nd to not have the field in pristine condition is beyond me. It is understandable that in December and January a field might be difficult to maintain and keep in good condition.
Earlier this week, new Bears Chairman George McCaskey defended the turf at Soldier Field.
“It’s not a money issue on the turf,” McCaskey said on “The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show” on ESPN 1000. “It’s at this point, primarily it’s a safety issue.
“The studies aren’t conclusive, but the studies that we have looked at have shown a higher incidence of lower leg injuries among players on artificial turf. And we want to prolong careers. We want our players to be safe. We want our investment in the players to be protected and the state of artificial turf or an infield surface is such now that we think the safest surface for our players is natural grass.”
If the chairman is citing studies that turf is safer then there is some kind of disconnect with the coaching staff, which pulled the team off the field on Friday night. This latest stumble is a PR nightmare, turning paying fans away from a practice because of inadequate field conditions on a perfect summer night. I can’t wait to hear how the Bears spin this one. Stay tuned.