Park district wants Bears to pay for new turf

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New sod and poor weather could play a factor in Sunday's Bears playoff game at Soldier Field. The entire field has new grass on it, but there appears to be a battle over who will pay for it.

The sod has been in place since Friday. It's sturdy enough to be played on the very next day, so it should be in good shape on Sunday.

The temperature is starting to drop, feeling more like typical January weather in Chicago, Bears weather, if you will. There is a lot of debate whether the Bears will benefit from the colder conditions.

Last year, the Bears opened the playoffs at Soldier Field on a very mild day. So when the team from warm Carolina came to town, the Bears had no advantage and they lost. This year, colder temperatures and even snow are in the forecast. It's Bears weather. So they should have an advantage, right?

"We play in the cold, practice in the cold. We get used to it, I guess. But it's still cold to us as well as it is to them. So, I mean, how could the weather be on our side? We don't care," said Chris Harris, Bears defensive back.

A lot of people love playing in the cold weather, but I'm from Florida. I think football weather is 90 degrees," said Alex Brown, Bears defensive lineman.

Either way, the footing should be better than two weeks ago against Green Bay. The park district has put in a new layer of sod on both sides of the field. Before Green Bay, they had just done the middle of the field. Now the only issue is who will pay the $70,000 it cost. The Bears say that it is clear in their agreement that it is the park district's responsibility.

The park district's position is different.

"It will say that post-season play, along with the fact that the NFL gives them $60,000, and I believe the taxpayers will get their $70,000 back," said Tim Mitchell, park district superintendent.

It appears fans are losing interest. Tickets to the game are easy to come by from brokers like Gold Coast Tickets.

"Tickets are basically at cost to get into the game, $150 a ticket," said Max Waisvisz, Gold Coast Tickets.

If the Bears win on Sunday and proceed to the NFC championship game, brokers are predicting that will be a high-demand ticket.

Meantime, the park district has already paid the bill and they are leaving it to an arbitrator to decide, but they believe the Bears should reimburse the money.

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