NU eyes Wrigley for future football game

Christina Salter

Wrigley Field, a second home for thousands of fans bleeding Cubbie blue, might one day host fans of a different persuasion – Wildcat purple.

Northwestern Athletics is currently exploring the possibility of holding a football game at Wrigley Field in 2010 or later, athletic director Jim Phillips said.

Many issues must be considered before the game can become a reality, Phillips said. Most importantly, architects must decide if a regulation football field could fit in the stadium.

“We’re going to have to wait until spring to go out there and walk it off,” Phillips said.

NU is working with the Chicago Cubs, but it’s still “really early in the process,” Phillips said. Despite rumors of a Wrigley Field showdown in 2010 between NU and the University of Illinois, the game could be against any team, he said.

“The reports of a Northwestern-Illinois football game at Wrigley Field are premature,” said Jason Carr, the Cubs’ assistant director of media relations, in an e-mail.

A representative of the University of Illinois athletic public relations staff said the school does not have any involvement with exploring the idea of the game.

NU has been looking into the possibility of a game for eight to 10 months, considering dates in 2010 and beyond, Phillips said. However, NU still needs to determine if the game can fit in the Wildcats’ schedule and “make sense for us as a football program.”

“We’re always looking to maximize exposure for our football program, generate some additional revenue for the university and play on a big stage,” Phillips said.

Phillips was previously the athletic director at Northern Illinois University, whose team played a football game against the University of Iowa at Soldier Field in 2007.

At that game, the field’s 61,500 seats completely sold out in the largest home crowd in NIU football history.

Wrigley Field has a capacity of 41,160, compared to Ryan Field’s 49,256. The ballpark has hosted non-baseball events in the past, such as the National Hockey League’s second Winter Classic this month, when the Chicago Blackhawks played the Detroit Red Wings before a sellout crowd.

The Chicago Bears called Wrigley Field home for 50 seasons before moving to Soldier Field in 1971.

The Cubs have since made several renovations to Wrigley Field, including the expansion of the bleacher section after the 2005 season, which may affect the possibility of fitting a football field.

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