SMG Management of Soldier Field: A Sob Sod StorySeptember 26, 2011
It’s only Week 3 and here we are again. The notoriously poor turf at Soldier Field has once more become a story. With 2:44 left in the second quarter, the referees called a time out for what was described as a “dangerous situation.” A close up of a referee’s foot revealed that he had discovered a small metal spike sticking straight up into the air mere feet from where players were running, diving, and being driven into the ground.
It’s pathetic. It’s pathetic that a charter franchise does not own their stadium and thus, control its field surface. It’s pathetic that the Chicago Park District, in conjunction with SMG, cannot maintain the field properly. It’s especially pathetic that this is displayed in plain view of a national audience during FOX’s game of the week.
Soldier Field ranked 17th out of the 18 grass fields in the NFL according to a NFLPA field quality poll. However, when asked specifically which grass field is the worst in the league, more players named Soldier Field than any other. The playing surface begins the season in rough shape, uneven in places, visible divots, and a slippery, muddy mess after a small amount of rain. It finishes the season as a complete disaster.
And that’s when they lay and water the sod properly to begin with. We’re less than two months removed from the Bears Family Fest debacle—a night where thousands of Chicago families battled Lollapalooza traffic for a chance to watch the Bears, only to be turned away at the entrance as the field was deemed “unsafe” for players to practice on. SMG installed new sod and didn’t water it enough. Seams were exposed and cracks had developed. Pathetic.
In a league as competitive as the NFL, the Bears need every possible advantage. SMG’s management contract is up after this year. For a team in need of a lot of changes on the field, hopefully they start from the ground up.