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49ers COO: Field will be ready for opener, will be among best in NFL

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

This is what Levi's Stadium looked like on Aug. 26. (John Breech/CBSSports.com)
This is what Levi's Stadium looked like on Aug. 26. (John Breech/CBSSports.com)

The playing surface at the 49ers new $1.2 billion stadium hasn't exactly been up to par since the team played its first preseason game against the Broncos on Aug. 17.

Since that game, a few things have happened that the team isn't exactly proud of: Coach Jim Harbaugh had to cancel an open practice that was taking place in front of over 5,000 fans. That cancellation on Aug. 20 had immediate ramifications.

Before hosting the Chargers on Aug. 24, the team decided to tear out the playing surface and put in a new one.

After the Chargers game, the team started the process of tearing up the field for a second time to install a third field -- and according to 49ers Chief Operating Officer Al Guido, the third time is going to be the charm.

Guido told CBSSports.com that the new field will be laid down sometime between Thursday and Saturday and will be 'one of the best in the NFL.'

"We think by Friday or Saturday it will be fully down," Guido said. "They're out there looking at sod. We think we can get it here by [Wednesday], have it down by Thursday or Friday."

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the 49ers had a budget of $1.4 million for the original playing surface at Levi's. So how much will it cost the team for two replacement fields?

Guido was asked that question, but was unwilling to divulge the information.

"I'll say this: The 49ers will spare no expense to make sure their NFL field is safe, playable and one of the best surfaces down," Guido said. "If there's one thing that we've proven, it's that we weren't afraid to take a risk, we weren't afraid to act quickly, we always had a plan in place to re-sod the field."

The 49ers COO said the team's had a sod plan in place since Harbaugh canceled that Aug. 20 practice.

"Once we knew the open practice did not go well, we made immediate action to get it right," Guido said. "While it wasn't perfect, I promise it will be for the Bears game. It will be a great surface, it will be one of the best in the NFL, if not the best."

The 49ers home opener against Chicago isn't until Week 2, but that doesn't mean crews will have two weeks to lay down the field. Before the home opener, there's an international soccer game between Chile and Mexico on Sept. 6.

Guido said he the team's isn't concerned about the soccer game possibly tearing up the field.

"We're re-doing the underneath part, the sand, soil mix and then we're going to put sod on top of it. You saw us play an NFL game [against the Chargers], certainly not perfect. That sod got laid down late Thursday afternoon for a Sunday game," Guido said. "We're going to lay this down Thursday or Friday and have a full week to get it down for Mexico-Chile and have a full two weeks before we play the Bears."

Although the 49ers had planned to play on Bandera Bermuda grass, Guido said the team might switch, depending on what the best available grass is.

"It really depends what the best patch of grass is," Guido said. "We love the Bandera, but to lay something down in the timeframe that we need it down, it really comes down to what turf is in the best shape right now because we don't have that month to kind of grow it, so we're talking about a mature field, so really, it's the best field we can get. It's either Tifway or Bandera."

You can see below what the field looked like before the team's preseason opener.

This is what the field at Levi's Stadium looked like on Aug. 17. (John Breech/CBSSports.com)
This is what the field at Levi's Stadium looked like on Aug. 17. (John Breech/CBSSports.com)

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