As the Northwestern Wildcats prepare to take on the Wisconsin Badgers this Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, there’s another set of preparations taking place at a different location. The Wrigley Field and Northwestern grounds crews are prepping for the first football game at the Friendly Confines since Northwestern last hosted a game there on November 20, 2010.
As you might remember, that was the first college football game at Wrigley Field since 1938, and it was the first football game held there since the Chicago Bears left in 1970. Exactly 11 years later, Northwestern will play host again, and this time, they will battle the Purdue Boilermakers.
Due to Wrigley Field’s dimensions and field constraints, both Northwestern and Illinois had to play to one side of the field because of safety concerns. The east end zone was way too close to the action.
As we have seen over the years, the bricks and ivy can be rather unforgiving to outfielders crashing into it while trying to catch a fly ball. Imagine a wide receiver at full speed on a go-route catching a pass in the back of the end zone. Unlike outfielders, wide receivers aren’t exactly taught how to rob home runs. Tracking a football in the air is one thing, understanding the wall’s proximity is another. Are they supposed to stop in their tracks and let the football bang off the wall for a double? Or, in this case, an incomplete pass?
From the looks of things, it seems they have found a resolution. This time around, the teams will use both sides of the field, and we won’t have something similar to the Penn State vs. Illinois game from earlier this year when both teams switched sides after almost every play during their nine-overtime game. To create more field space and make this happen, some of the seating along the third base line, along with the Cubs’ home dugout, has been removed.
According to the Cubs’ Senior V.P. of Communications, Julian Green, they hope to have at least one football game a year at the Friendly Confines and they are open to hosting future bowl games. Looking ahead to the future, this could wind up being a big moneymaker for the Cubs and the city of Chicago.
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