When the Chicago Fire announced they’d be moving back to Soldier Field, the original plan included very little overlap with the Chicago Bears season. Essentially, the Fire would be the iconic stadium’s lone tenant from March until mid-August, when the NFL preseason would normally begin.
As it did with many things, the pandemic threw a wrench into that plan. The Fire are now tasked with playing a condensed fall schedule during the Bears’ season. Wednesday, when the Fire host Houston Dynamo, it marks the first time the Fire will play at Soldier Field this season after a Bears game.
So, what will the field look like? Thankfully, it should look better than the last time the Fire shared a field with the Bears back in 2005. Hot Time is told the NFL football gridlines will be removed before Fire matches this season. The NFL paint is heavy, so it’s possible the lines—especially the endzones—might still be faintly visible. But, largely, they’ll be gone. This actually extends the other way, too. Workers were mopping the white soccer lines off the grass within minutes following the Fire’s recent 2-2 draw with the Columbus Crew.
The lines will be gone, but what about the actual condition of the grass? Fire Head Coach Raphael Wicky said he’s prepared for anything.
“Usually a field is pretty beaten up after an American football game, but there are people who will work on the field, so we just have to trust these people that they put the field in good shape, and all the rest is —I can’t do anything against that,” Wicky said at a recent news conference.
Growing up in Argentina, attacking midfielder Ignacio Aliseda never had to share a pitch with an American football team. But, he said he’ll be ready to play no matter what the turf looks like.
“We know that even going into it, the grass is a little bit longer because we know that the guys play there,” Aliseda said. “And yeah, we have some concerns obviously because that sport uses cleats that are longer than ours and we know that they step on the field differently, so that could cause some holes or some inconsistencies on the field.
“But the reality is, we have to go out and play on the field we play, wherever we play, it’s not an excuse. The field isn’t an excuse. We just go out there and enjoy the moment. So even if there are some inconsistencies on the field or there’s a divot here or there, we just close our eyes and enjoy our moment because that’s our field and that’s where we play.”
Unlike previous matches at Soldier Field, the Fire are not scheduled to train there the day before gameday this week, which should help the pitch conditions. The team will train in Bridgeview, instead.
Fire-Dynamo kicks off at 6:30 p.m. CT Wednesday. Fans won’t be allowed to attend, but the match can be seen on WGN-TV and ESPN+.