By Lamar Battle
Reprinted from 2014 and just in time for football season !
I noticed during a recent Chicago Bears loss to the Green Bay Packers the grass in Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears had a yellowish hue,
The field was pock marked with divots and appeared to have sections that were patched in. In an era where NFL teams showcase state of the art stadiums with thick synthetic grass with rubber pellets that simulate dirt and minimize injuries It’s curious that the Bears would subject a million dollar product ( the players) to sub standard conditions.
As a matter fact around the country there are stadiums that are truly spectacular.
The flag ship may be AT@T (Home of the Cowboys) Stadium in Texas which has hosted an NBA All Star game and is slated for future final fours and super bowls. So impressive is this domed facility that tours are conducted year round. Detroit’s ( yes I said Detroit) Ford Field boast a roof, first rate turf and four levels of sky boxes located over seats that provide all of the fans great views.
Then there’s the Super Dome in New Orleans, enough said. Houston, Atlanta, St Louis and Indianapolis all sport domed stadiums where fans are always comfortable. In the case of Phoenix there is a stadium that transports the entire field in and out with the use of a sophisticated system of rollers thus ensuring that natural grass can be used in a domed stadium with a retractable roof. Imagine what that must have cost ?
Of course everyone knows that we reside in the city of big shoulders where player and fan alike endure the elements in some sort of weird display of entertainment machismo. Even in the presence of tornado warnings Bear fans just retire to the concourse area until the threat is over.
Could it be that tradition and loyalty are time tested ways to save money at the expense of working people ? On many fronts Chicago is considered to be a world class city but we always seem to roll out discounted amenities. The 300 section in th United Center is so high ( In a building that seats over 21,000) that fans have to watch the game on the Jumbo Tron. U.S. Cellular Field once had seats so high and steep that fans were afraid of falling out to the field. Wrigley Field amounts to a 1950’s era park with the allure of bars and restaurants in the surrounding area to appease the faithful.
Now, I must admit that Soldiers Field is not hard on the eyes and it does boast a splendid view of the Chicago skyline, but basically we are just talking about additional seats heaped on top of what was left of the old stadium. Of course, owners of any team can choose whatever design they desire, considering that taxpayers never contribute ( pun intended) and most owners sell stadium naming rights to corporations for peanuts.
Today, stadiums can utilize sun and rain shades for fans on upper levels while leaving the playing surface exposed. Millers Park in Milwaukee boast a retractable roof. Can you believe that ? A retractable roof in Milwaukee? must have cost a fortune.
Seems interesting that two of the cities with the biggest income discrepancies between rich and poor also offer two of the worst football stadiums. The accused are Chicago and New York.
To be honest, a game at Soldier Field is not so bad unless of course, It happens to be raining or 20 degrees outside.