Bears consider new turf at Soldier Field
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said Thursday the team discussed the possibility of switching to synthetic FieldTurf last year, and more research about a possible change will be conducted once the season ends.
"The bottom line," Angelo said, is that Soldier Field is "a safe surface, and that's what we're fixed on, making sure we play on a safe surface."
Linebacker Brian Urlacher called the footing in Soldier Field "horrible," saying the shaky field conditions negate the team's speed so much that they "haven't been able to do what we normally do." Quarterback Jay Cutler called Soldier Field "one of the worst fields in the league" on Dec. 8, adding that "we've got to deal with it, and our guys know it."
The Bears own the second seed for the NFC playoffs, which means they host the highest remaining seed from this weekend's games at Soldier Field on Jan. 16 for the divisional round. But there seems to be a question as to whether the Bears own a true home-field advantage.
The Bears are 6-2 on the road this season, and 5-3 at Soldier Field.
"Anytime we play at Soldier Field, it's a home-field advantage," Angelo said. "The disappointments I have personally this year are we had more road wins than we had home wins, which is a little ironic when you're a playoff team. Usually that's not a good omen.
"The surface is the surface; you've got two seasons here in Chicago. As the year goes on, the surface isn't going to be as good."
That's why the Bears continue to consider a change, especially when taking into account the fact the current team is built for speed. Soldier Field general manager Tim Lefebvre suggested earlier in the week that the Bears "have a discussion about changing to synthetic."
"I know [CEO] Ted [Phillips has] said he wants to get more comfortable in the research," Angelo said. "I'm not ruling it out, and we'll do our due diligence with the research. Everybody wants a fast surface. I don't think any NFL team wants to play with three inches of grass on the field. Every team is looking for that, and we're no different. So we'll go through that again, and see what the results are based on the research going forward."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.