Soldier Field gets a new Bermuda grass surface. The Chicago Bears hope it’s stronger, faster and safer.

Chicago Bears kicker Cairo Santos will feel more than the typical Week 1 excitement when he practices at Soldier Field on Friday.

He’s also eager to examine a new playing surface he hopes will make it easier to kick at home starting in Sunday’s season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

Earlier this week, the Bears resodded Soldier Field with Bermuda grass, replacing the old Kentucky bluegrass.

Bears coach Matt Eberflus said the change was in the works for some time, though it wasn’t implemented until after Soldier Field hosted German metal band Rammstein’s concert Saturday.

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The change comes after field conditions were so bad during the preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Aug. 13 that they drew the attention of NFL Players Association President JC Tretter, who tweeted that the league and teams “clearly need to re-evaluate what is an acceptable surface for players to compete on.”

“We feel it’s going to be a nice surface,” Eberflus said. “It’s going to be a fast surface, which I think lends to help us out. … We want a long, fast, athletic football team. So that lends to our advantage.”

Santos was honest about the field conditions during the Family Fest practice on Aug. 9 and the Chiefs game, the only exhibition at Soldier Field this year. He noted how he walked around before the practice identifying troublesome holes and said he has had to be cautious over the years on long kicks because of how the grass affected his plant foot.

“I’ve seen better,” he said after the practice. “It’s just what we have to deal with.”

Now he’s hopeful the new grass will be stronger and cause fewer problems.

“The Bermuda has always been a shorter grass. It’s not that long one, the crabgrass that it’s been in the past,” Santos said. “You can see more of the ball. The plant foot is tighter.

“The other one, the grass got ripped out too easily. They just came at halftime and put sand down. It just becomes a sandy field that they spray painted green. So (now) it becomes a surface that’s used in a lot of places.”

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Bermuda grass is known to be better for warmer climates, but Soldier Field spokesman Luca Serra said its success at colder-weather stadiums, including in Kansas City and Baltimore, helped to sway stadium and Bears decision-makers, who used Carolina Green Corporation to sod.

Eberflus said the Indianapolis Colts had Bermuda grass in their practice facility. Santos kicked on it in Kansas City, where Bears general manager Ryan Poles spent his previous 13 seasons.

“(The Chiefs) are in similar weather,” Santos said. “They had a heating system underneath the field to keep it warm. So I’ve been familiar with that, and the Bermuda is a better grass to kick. It’s just in this cold, if you can grow it and protect it, then it’s a great thing.”

Soldier Field’s Kentucky bluegrass surface typically was resodded one to three times per season, and it will be a feeling-out process for the Bears and Soldier Field crews how often and when resodding will be done this season.

Rye seed first is added as the weather gets colder so the grass becomes a bit of a hybrid. A later winter would help the Bermuda grass last longer at Soldier Field, which also has a heating system to help maintain the grass.

Serra said Carolina Green took acres of grass and grew it on plastic trays, a tactic that helped strengthen the grass before it was brought to Chicago. Resodding less than a week before the opener is fairly typical, Serra said, and the Bears were pleased with how it turned out.

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Santos said he will check out Friday how it turned out. He isn’t the only Bears player excited about the change.

“I bring like five pairs of cleats every week, so maybe I can just stick to the one pair,” tight end Cole Kmet said. “I’m glad to hear we’re switching it up a little bit. And I think that will benefit the players for sure and in a safety sense as well.”

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