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NFLPA president calls for league ‘to re-evaluate acceptable surface’ after Chicago preseason opener

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CHICAGO — The playing surface at Soldier Field has been the subject of criticism throughout the bears‘ 19-14 preseason win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday.

Filled with noticeable divots and patches of missing grass, the field conditions became so noticeable that JC Tretter, the president of the NFL Players Association, asked on Twitter why the league allowed Bears and Chiefs players to perform on a surface in such poor condition. visible state.

“The NFL said this field met minimum testing standards,” Tretter tweeted. “We clearly need to re-evaluate what is an acceptable surface for players to compete on. We need new test stats that look at the performance and safety of each field. The NFL can and should do better.”

The Bears staged their only preseason game eight days after Elton John played a concert at Soldier Field, leaving the grass visibly damaged with lines of missing grass running the length of the field. The Chicago Fire, which also plays at Soldier Field, announced ahead of the concert that they would be moving their August 21 game to nearby SeatGeek Stadium “due to the expected field condition at Soldier Field from a series of scheduled events at the venue.”

“I’m new here so I don’t know the situations, but I know the guys are trying their best, and the playing surface was passed by the NFL so we could get on it,” said Bears coach Matt Eberflus. “I thought it was solid and it was good, so let’s leave it at that.”

The Bears held their annual family reunion practice at Soldier Field on Tuesday, and while the playing surface was still visibly damaged, some players say field conditions on Saturday were better than earlier in the week.

“I mean, it’s always been like this,” quarterback Justin Fields said of the turf issues. “It was definitely better than the family reunion earlier this week. I’m just glad it was better than earlier this week because it wasn’t the best. The grass could definitely be better.”

Last week, Bears kicker Cairo Santos lamented that the field conditions at Soldier Field have forced him to adapt his way of training during the off-season to mimic the challenges he faces on the turf during home games.

“I was training in Florida in Jacksonville and I went to a high school grass court, which was perfect,” said Santos. “It was almost like, ‘OK, I’m getting too comfortable.’ So in my neighborhood there’s a soccer field and the grass is Bermuda grass. It’s really long. I thought, ‘Okay, this is more like it.'”

However, Santos added that he has “seen better. It’s just what we’re dealing with.”

Soldier Field is the oldest stadium in the NFL with the smallest capacity. Last September, the Bears took a step toward leaving their historic home when they signed a $197.2 million purchase and sale agreement (PSA) with Churchill Downs Inc. for the 326-acre estate in Arlington Park in the suburbs of Arlington Heights.

The Arlington Park site, 30 miles northwest of Soldier Field, is expected to be the site of a new stadium for the Bears in the future.

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