Bears Chair George McCaskey yesterday said that "no changes are planned" to the natural grass surface at Soldier Field despite the fact that many players from the Bears and other teams have "strongly criticized" it. McCaskey said, "It's not a money issue on the turf. It's at this point, primarily it's a safety issue. The studies aren't conclusive, but the studies that we have looked at have shown a higher incidence of lower leg injuries among players on artificial turf. And we want to prolong careers. We want our players to be safe." He added, "I don't have any scientific evidence for this, but I would suggest to you that a natural grass field that has shown some wear and tear in January is safer than a frozen artificial surface in January" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 8/2).
DEAL WITH THE DEVILS: In Phoenix, Jeff Metcalfe reports Arizona State Univ. is "in discussions" with the Cubs "to practice and play its baseball games at the Cubs' new spring-training complex in Mesa starting in 2014." The Cubs "approached ASU about sharing the $84 million complex," and ASU VP/Univ. Athletics Lisa Love "sent an e-mail to baseball season-ticket holders Tuesday outlining the Cubs' possibility." ASU VP/Public Affairs Virgil Renzulli said that an ASU clubhouse at the facility would cost an estimated $2M, "compared with $20 million to $25 million to rebuild Packard Stadium, home to the Sun Devils since 1974" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/3).
GATHERING FEEDBACK: In Chicago, Shannon Ryan reports Northwestern Univ. will redesign the floor at Welsh-Ryan Arena next month, and the school will decide between four floor options "partially based off fan opinions on a Facebook page." Northwestern Associate Dir of Athletic Communications Nick Brilowski said that a court design "will be chosen by the athletic staff near the end of next week ... and the construction will begin around mid-August." Ryan notes the Facebook reviews "have been mixed but opinions are strong concerning the mostly all-purple court" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/3).
CALLING PLAN: In Boston, Sara Brown reported AT&T is "improving cell phone reception at Fenway Park." AT&T will "increase mobile broadband coverage in the Fenway area with the addition of new 'strategically placed' wireless antennas." Factors like the "terrain, buildings, and crowd density" previously affected wireless service at the ballpark (BOSTON.com, 8/2).
THAT'S THE TICKET: In Miami, Elaine Walker reports Wal-Mart and Ticketmaster yesterday "announced a program to install touch screen kiosks in the electronics department" of Walmart stores. After customers select an event, a Wal-Mart employee "will complete the transaction and print the ticket" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/3).