Heavy rain floods Soldier Field during the Chicago Bears’ season opener against the San Francisco 49ers

Excessive rain was no match for the new turf at Soldier Field on Sunday when the Chicago Bears took on the San Francisco 49ers.

Flash flood warnings have been issued for the start of the midday game.

At some point before the game, radar estimated 3-5 inches of rain at some point before the game started.

CHICAGO INSTALL NEW TURF AT SOLDIER FIELD AHEAD OF SEASON OPENER AGAINST 49ERS

The National Weather Service warned that heavy downpours could lead to puddles on roads and possibly localized flooding, but players and fans did not expect the flooding to occur on the field. Bermuda’s new turf was installed ahead of the Bears’ season opener against the 49ers.

Field crews at Soldier Field were forced to push water off the field with a squeegee throughout the game.

And while the excessive rain was no match for the Bears’ new turf, the puddles made the perfect slide and slide for Chicago to celebrate their win over San Francisco.

Why was a new turf installed at Soldier Field?

The turf is expected to be tougher than the Kentucky bluegrass they have had for over 30 years.

The grass at Soldier Field has been an ongoing problem for years, receiving multiple complaints from players and coaches.

Carolina Green Corp., based in Indian Trail, North Carolina, supplied Bermuda grass to the Bears and says it has strong root mass to provide a solid supporting surface.

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The particular strain of Bermuda grass that is used at Soldier Field, Tahoma 31, was developed in Oklahoma State, has great cold tolerance, as well as fast recovery characteristics, and has become a favorite for their northern sites.

Bermuda’s specialty turf is grown on what they call GameOnGrass (GOG).

“GOG is a sand-based turf grown on plastic, which creates intense root mass and unmatched durability,” said Chad Price, owner of Carolina Green Corp.

The combination of thickness and weight, and the intense root system of cultivated plastic, allow GOG to be put down and played immediately.

“This is by no means an ordinary turf that needs to root and establish itself before playing,” Price explained.

GOG is currently on four other NFL surfaces: Baltimore, Washington, Kansas City and Tennessee.

Price said they have been growing GOG for 14 years and are one of a handful of companies growing this type of product in the country. He said it was common practice to install GOG hours/days before playing and make substitutions mid-season.

“The real key is to grow it on plastic, so the root mass intertwines intensely, and 100% of the root mass comes into the stadium. It’s really a flooring system, not a” “typical” grass.

What happens when it snows?

Price mentioned that Bermuda grass will go dormant in the winter, but the root mass is still there to provide a solid foundation. They overseeded Bermuda grass in the fall with perennial ryegrass to give the green color everyone loves.

Price said these stadiums, like Soldier Field, have in-ground heating to keep the root zone from freezing and to keep the grass active. He also mentioned that they sometimes use pitch covers between games to retain heat and grow grass.

What about plans for a new stadium?

Meanwhile, the bears renders published earlier this week of a new entertainment district and closed stadium, should the team relocate to suburban Arlington Heights in the coming years.

“In September 2021, the Chicago Bears signed an agreement to acquire 326 acres of property in Arlington Heights to secure the potential to start an exciting new chapter there,” the Bears said in an open letter. “We envision a versatile entertainment district anchored by a new, best-in-class gated stadium, providing Chicagoland with a new home worthy of hosting global events such as the Super Bowl, college football playoffs and Final Four. “

If the organization goes ahead with the purchase of Arlington Park, it would build its new stadium just east of Illinois Route 53 and south of the Northwest Highway.

The Bears are also looking to develop an entertainment district on the site, potentially with restaurants, a hotel, retail space and parks.

In the meantime, we’ll wait to see if this new territory translates into winning ways for the Bears at home this season.

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