CHICAGO (CBS) –- The Chicago Bears on Friday abruptly canceled a practice at Soldier Field that was geared toward families and cited problems with the condition of the grass field at the lakefront stadium.
The team instead sent players to downstate Bourbannais to practice at around 5 p.m. The hundreds of fans who lined up in Chicago for Family Fest were offered refunds for their entry fees and parking. The Bears’ apologetic spokesman said people who went inside the stadium were offered free food and beverages. Fireworks went on as planned Friday evening.
Tim LeFevour, Soldier Field general manager, said the grass at Soldier Field should have been watered more to offset recent heat waves. Gaps could be seen in the grass.
“Player safety is key,” Lefevour said.
WBBM’s Jeff Joniak reports the Chicago Park District, which owns Soldier Field, says it will be financially responsible for the cancellation.
Fans outside the stadium expressed disappointment, calling Family Fest a bit of a fiasco. Bears enthusiasts came from all over.
“Our blood bleeds orange and blue. So it’s a disappointment that the team’s not here,” Florida resident Lisa Smith said.
CBS 2’s Ryan Baker says the abruptness of the cancellation will be a public-relations problem for the Chicago Bears. It will also help perpetuate longstanding criticisms about the quality of grass surface at Soldier Field.
Soldier Field’s playing surface will be ready for the Chicago Bears Preseason game against the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 13, the team said.