Even before a single snap of the 2022 season, the playing surface of Soldier Field is apparently already in rough shape.
That’s not great news for them Bears as they prepare to play host to the Chiefs on Saturday afternoon in the preseason opener for both teams.
“Especially Week 1, our first game of the season—I’ve seen better,” Bears kicker Cairo Santos said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s just what we have to deal with. The less of a problem you make it in your mind, it helps you overcome it and just go.”
But Santos wasn’t blindsided by the field conditions at Soldier Field, which the Bears share with the Chicago Fire FC of MLS. In fact, he’s so accustomed to the inconsistencies of the field that he deliberately sought out a lousy field for practice near his Florida home, according to the Sun-Times.
Santos told the Sun-Times that he felt like he was getting too comfortable kicking on a high school turf field. Presumably, he needed a shoddier surface to better approximate the grass at Soldier Field.
“So in my neighborhood, there’s a soccer field, and the grass is Bermuda grass,” Santos told the Sun-Times. “It’s really long. I was like, ‘OK. This is more like it.’ The ball flies differently. It’s not super-even all the time. … It’s important to put yourself in that situation.”
The Bears are already considering a move to suburban Arlington Heights, Ill. Against that backdrop, the condition of the playing surface at Soldier Field isn’t going to help the city in its pitch to keep the team based downtown.
Meanwhile, Santos seems to be navigating the pockmarks of Soldier Field adequately.
In 2020, he set a Bears record by converting 93.3% of his field-goal attempts, including identical 15-of-16 results at home and on the road. Last season, he converted 86.7% of his field-goal attempts, including a 9-of-11 mark at Soldier Field.
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