Bears Call Off Family Fest, Head to Bourbonnais

With a little more than an hour before the event, and with fans gathering outside Soldier Field, the Chicago Bears on Friday evening canceled the team's annual Family Fest.

Poor field conditions are to blame, the team said.

Soldier Field General Manager Tim LeFevour said the field didn't respond well to new sod put down following the U2 concert and Manchester United soccer game.

"Over the last few weeks we've had some extreme heat conditions. It was a miscalculation on our grounds crews' part. They did not get enough water on the field. Some of the seams opened up," said LeFevour.

LeFevour said he wasn't concerned about next week's preseason match-up against the Buffalo Bills.

"We know it can be corrected," he said.

New sod is put down on Soldier Field about three times each year.  The venue's management has multiple times offered an alternative surface to the Bears, but the team's management said natural grass gives them a competitive advantage.

Activities at Soldier Field were set to begin at 5 p.m., according to the Chicago Bears' website.  Introductions were set for 6:45 with practice play to begin at 7 p.m.

Players were ushered off the field and boarded buses back to Bourbonnais for a closed practice at about 5:45 p.m.

"Sorry to inform u fans but Family Fest has just been canceled due to inadequate playing surface to practice on. Sorry 4 inconvenience," Defensive Back Chris Harris said via Twitter:

Darryl MaGee, a member of the team's equipment staff, also expressed condolences via Twitter:

"Sorry to the Bears fans who won tickets for tonight... Circumstances out of my control...," he wrote.

Full refunds were issued to those who purchased them for Family Fest.  Free food and non-alcoholic beverages were made available to those fans who wished to stay. 

The practice would have been just the second full-squad workout of the preseason. The full team practiced Thursday night in Bourbonnais.

A photo of the Soldier Field grass at the 13-yard line, shared via Twitter from NBC Chicago's @PeggyKusinski
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