On Friday night, Bears fans were put squarely in the middle of an ongoing turf war between the Bears brass and the Chicago Park District, who runs Soldier Field.
Poor field conditions led to the cancellation of the annual family fest, ruining an evening for Bears fans who had made the trek to Soldier Field despite the traffic and public transportation logjams created by Lollapalooza and typical Friday-in-summer rush hour traffic.
Bears president George McCaskey said in the wake of the incident the team is now working closely with the CPD.
"Update is we have assisted the CPD with the maintenance plan that began Friday night and continued over the weekend," McCaskey said. "Our head grounds keeper will be at Soldier Field today to look at and assess the next steps to make sure the field is in the proper condition for Saturday."
Great to hear they're working together, finally. But we here at Grizzly Detail aren't ready to move on just yet. We've got some blame to throw around.
Who shoulders the most fault for the turf troubles at Soldier Field?
Chicago Park District: Look, it's their job to keep Soldier Field in good shape, and they failed. It's as simple as that. You can get into how they failed to water the grass, or clean up after U2, or learn groundskeeping principles from their friends at Wrigley, but the fact is that they didn't do their job, and fans suffered.
Chicago Bears staff: If you're hosting a party at a banquet hall, do you get there the same time as your guests? No, you show up early to make sure that the tables are set, the placecards are out, and that the DJ's speakers aren't near Aunt Mildred's table because really, who wants to listen to her complain. The Bears were hosting a party for thousands of fans, but didn't send anyone to check out the notoriously terrible field ahead of time. Lovie Smith should have a minion just for this purpose. Because he didn't, the team announced a cancellation after most fans were already stuck in rush hour/Lollapalooza traffic, if not already parked at the field.
Fans: Nope! They take zero percent of the blame. They were Bears fans who just wanted to see their team play, and drove hours to do so. They also didn't hop any barriers, rush the field, and tear up Soldier Field with their bare hands in anger after hearing the news. Good job, fans.
The NFL: The squabble over the field conditions in Chicago aren't new, yet the league has stayed curiously silent on the issue. Friday night's snafu only affected Chicago, but over the course of the season, at least eight teams who aren't the Bears will play on that terrible field. Shoddy field conditions put both teams in risk, so why hasn't the league interceded and told the Bears and the Park District to improve the field or else? If the league is serious about player safety, they won't stand for another minute of this nonsense.
The players: Yes, they deserve a tiny bit of blame. Not each individual, but their union was just recertified, and player safety should be union's top concern. Poor playing conditions can lead to injuries, so it's time for DeMaurice Smith and the players' association to point out the problems at Soldier Field.