By Adam Hoge-
CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s no secret that Soldier Field is widely considered to have the worst playing surface in the NFL.
That dubious achievement hasn’t gotten past Wisconsin Badgers head coach Bret Bielema who will lead his team onto the Solider Field grass Sept. 17 against the Northern Illinois Huskies.
“We actually had our equipment people look into it and we are going to use a special shoe,” Bielema said. “The good thing is, it’s early in the year. Traditionally, later in the year, it gets to be an issue.”
Bielema was asked if he talked to the Green Bay Packers about playing at Solider Field, but he said he hadn’t. Instead, he contacted a few MAC schools that had played there and the Iowa Hawkeyes, who played NIU at Soldier Field in 2007.
In the past, concerts and other events have forced the sod to be replaced on short notice before Bears games, which has contributed to poor footing for the players.
There are no concerts scheduled between now and Sept. 17 at Soldier Field, but there will be a total of seven football games played on the surface before NIU and Wisconsin face each other. Three of those games will be Bears games (two of them preseason contests) and three of them will be high school games (all of which will be played Aug. 26). The seventh game is a college game between Hampton and Alabama A&M Sept. 3.
Soldier Field is owned by the Chicago Park District and managed by SMG. The Chicago Park District has said it is open to installing artificial turf at Soldier Field, but the Bears have been reluctant to do so, despite a number of players complaining about the surface in recent seasons.
Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the White Sox, Blackhawks and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.