The 49ers have canceled their open practice scheduled for Sunday at Levi's Stadium due to poor field conditions, the team announced Thursday night.
The practice will be moved to the team's nearby practice facility. The 49ers had plans to open the session to 20,000 fans, but those plans have been called off. Due to logistical constraints, the open practice will not be rescheduled.
“We extend our sincere apologies to those fans who were scheduled to attend Sunday’s practice,” said Jim Mercurio, vice president of stadium operations and general manager of Levi’s Stadium. “After a thorough inspection earlier today, our grounds crew determined that the field would not be ready by Sunday. Therefore, the recommendation was made to relocate practice. We remain confident that our turf management program will provide a playing surface that meets the team’s standards, as we enter the 2015 NFL season.”
According to the 49ers, the grounds crew walked the playing field earlier Thursday and recommended that Sunday’s practice be moved after determining the field would not meet the team’s standards in time for Sunday’s session. The field conditions have progressively gotten worse for each of the 49ers' three practices held inside their stadium during this training camp.
The footing was particularly treacherous on Wednesday evening. Large divots appeared throughout the playing field, and running back Mike Davis took a nasty fall after the turf gave out when he was making a cut.
The 49ers' final 11-on-11 period was reduced to a safe walk-through speed. A team official said it had nothing to do with the turf. Coach Jim Tomsula predetermined the slower speed because of the team's shortage at inside linebacker, the spokesman said.
At least part of the problem appears to be the frequency that the playing surface is re-sodded due to other events scheduled for the stadium. New turf was installed after the Grateful Dead concerts in late-June. New fields will also be installed after Taylor Swift's final show on Aug. 15, as well as two weeks later after a Luke Bryan concert.
In May, Mercurio said the 49ers had plans to re-sod Levi's Stadium seven or eight times through Super Bowl 50, which is scheduled Feb. 7. The 49ers have considered installing artificial surface, but the team is committed to a natural grass playing field through the Super Bowl.