Wisch: Just Say ‘Yes’ To FieldTurf

By Dave Wischnowsky –

(CBS) I like natural grass.

I sat on a bunch of it just this past weekend during Lollapalooza (although, fortunately, I wasn’t there on Sunday when Grant Park turned into three yards and a pile of mud). Real grass is attractive, comfortable, fragrant stuff.

Heck, it just smells like football.

So, I completely get why Chicago Bears Chairman George McCaskey and the rest of the team’s front-office wonks might have such an affinity for natural turf. I do, too. But I don’t understand at all why the team is clinging so desperately to it.

Because, sometimes, you just need to face reality.

Even when it leads to something artificial.

“Our primary concern is player safety,” McCaskey said on Monday while addressing the Bears’ latest turf debacle, which resulted in the cancellation of Saturday’s Family Fest due to an under-watered and ultimately unsafe playing surface.

“We want to prolong careers,” McCaskey continued. “We want our guys to be available on a week-to-week basis. The evaluation is ongoing. Every year we take a look at it. Our considered opinion is that right now, the best surface for our team, primarily considering player safety, is a natural grass field.”

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, meanwhile, considered McCaskey’s opinion and opted to fire off a contrary one.

“I don’t understand why they don’t have FieldTurf, yet,” the Bears’ defensive leader said. “We’re a fast team. We play fast on FieldTurf. The injury issues aren’t as bad as they used to be (with artificial turf). They’ve gone down a lot in the last few years with the way they made the turf and stuff. So I don’t understand it.”

And neither do I.

After all, we’re a long way removed from 1993 when Bears wideout Wendell Davis was blowing out both his knees on a deep route and a bad seam in the AstroTurf at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium.

These days, the Giants, Jets, Cowboys, Saints, Bills, Falcons, Ravens, Patriots, Seahawks, Rams, Colts, Bengals and Vikings all play on artificial surfaces. And I can’t say that I’ve noticed them experiencing exorbitantly more injuries than other teams. Heck, Minnesota has far more trouble with its roof than it does with its turf.

Sure, in a perfect world – with perfect weather – the Bears should play all their games on natural grass. But this world isn’t perfect, and it’s time for the Bears to install FieldTurf at Soldier Field.

On Monday, however, McCaskey said the team will instead soldier on with the status quo – I suppose, at this moment, there really isn’t another choice – and will instead start working more closely with the Chicago Park District to, you know, water the field and stuff.

“The Park District has already said that it was a miscalculation on their part, that they need to do a better job,” McCaskey said. “And we need to do a better job to take a more active role in monitoring their treatment of the field. It needs to be a collaborative effort.”

McCaskey then said that process has already begun.

“I was there (Sunday) and spoke to Ken Mrock, our groundskeeper, who was the first person I saw when I got there,” he said. “The second person I saw when I got there was John Nolan, the park district’s groundskeeper. Both of them said that they’re very confident the field is going to be ready for Saturday.”

Well, perhaps that’s the Bears’ problem right there.

Just like what they say about quarterbacks, if you have two groundskeepers, you really have none.

In any case, play ball.

Oh, and don’t forget to set the sprinklers.

Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.

davewisch Wisch: Just Say ‘Yes’ To FieldTurf

Dave Wischnowsky

If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.

  • Larry Horse's Arse


    The Bears and City/Parks have done everything, have tried everything, have brought in all the experts. Cut your losses…..install the Field Turf.

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      It’s time. It just is.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    If The Sodfather couldn’t get it done, it can’t be done.

    Turn the page, go to the least-worst alternative.

  • Mark Gunderson

    Isn’t the stuff they have in Green Bay supposed to be partially “real” turf. Or grass rather?

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Yes, Mark, I think you are right…..same with the Denver Broncos too.

  • jack

    The answer is…. just play on a dirt field. Tennis does – it’s called clay.

    Everyone needs to stop complaining about the grass.

    @LHA – Did the Bears consult the Sodfather???

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Though my memory is like a sieve, I recall reports on the Score that The Sodfather made several consulting trips to Soldier Field, and I think over at least two seasons.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Last hoops season, Dave was way, way out in front of the sad Jereme Richmond “NBA Draft” story. Now I see that he was just busted for 2 counts of aggrivated battery. Sad. Tragic. What a huge waste of God-given talent. Hope he can make a u-turn in life, sooner than later.

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      Shocking news about RIchmond, Arse, but not surprising. Major waste of talent. He’s quickly turning into a “cautionary tale.” Sad stuff.

      • big time sucker

        “THE SADDEST THING IN LIFE IS WASTED TALENT” robert deniro as Angelo Anello, Bronx Tale


    New Bears’ Chairman George McCaskey may continue to insist that a grass field is better than FieldTurf, what’s the point in playing on one if it’s not properly maintained? While I think the field will be ready for NFL Preseason Football vs. the Bills Saturday night on WBBM Newsradio 780 AM/105.9 FM, I get this feeling that the grass issue will rear its ugly head again real, real soon. I believe the NFL will eventually have to intervene and may force the Bears and Chicago Park District to install FieldTurf as the season progresses. After all, I think these players actually might find their footing much better on FieldTurf, especially if a grass surface continues to remain quite a political football.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Shark, as always your comments are very helpful and instructive.
      I’m glad that you found Dave’s blog…..he’s an excellent writer with a great POV about all the issues/teams/sports.

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      Thanks for weighing in, Shark. And I think you’re absolutely right. This turf issue at Soldier Field is not going to go away. It’ll just keep popping back up again and again — and making both the franchise and the Park District look bad — until the Bears finally decide to do something bold to solve it.

      • big time sucker

        nobody complains about hallas halls practice facilities, why is solider field so hard to maintain? i don’t get it, they have to be getting bad sod, it’s the only thing i can think of

  • Tierd of the lame Excuses

    My question to Mr. McCaskey…..why the lame excuses…..Lets be real, we all know the real reason behind the Bears not switching to field turf or the hydro turf that lines the field in Green Bay oh by the way, they have an out door stadium like ours and also they go through severe weather like ummm the Bears, so stop with the lame excuses and be realllllll!! Just say we are cheap and we don’t like to spend money to help improve our team success just like in free agency..Im tierd of the excuses the front office and owners always give us!!


    Whatever the Packers have, so should the Bears. It doesn’t have to be what they have at UofI (where the Bears won a, oh boy, 2 games that un-magical year).

    Hearing the stats on what the Bears did with three and outs last year (and the Jets)
    I still think it should have been a Jets–Bears Superbowl last year.

    Those Steelers–Ravens tilts are bad football games, and I don’t know how the Steelers ever cobble together a championship offense.

  • Murphs Upper-Lip

    Can’t really argue with the Blog article or the comments thereafter. Dead on guys, pretty embarrassing situation.

  • big time sucker


    now if you want to use the cheap angle to discuss why the bears are still 15 million or so under the cap and still haven’t extended forte and chris harris and why they invested cheaply on reclimation projects that clearly won’t pan out, that’s a different story


      That’s a good point, b.t.s. Now, It’s hard to predict what a concert crowd is going to do to pro-turf (as I type that, there are probably studies from other stadiums)

      Keep in mind, though, that when (I’m going to get this wrong) Adonahka Suh nearly ended a key drive in a Bears game, they were playing on a brand-new artificial field.
      He’s going to get that chance again.
      The Bears play great on terrible surfaces (against the Jets, or the defense in the NFC championship game) and play terrible on great surfaces (the Giants game)
      it’s maddening.


    I could be dead wrong on this, but I’ve heard that the lakefront is built on top of the rubble from the Chicago fire. The top-soil to clay to backfill ratio must not be favorable.

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