By most accounts, the meeting between Northwestern and Illinois in historic Wrigley Field was either a home run buzz event or a sacrifice fly due to having to play by adjusted Wrigley Field rules. No matter the downsides to take from that unique matchup between the Wildcats and Illini in 2010, Northwestern wants to make it happen again soon.
Teddy Greenstein of The Chicago Tribune spoke with Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips this week about the possibility of returning to Wrigley, and he seems optimistic it will happen again. The question is when it may be possible to set another game in stone to be played in the aging baseball venue.
“We’re anxious to get something done,” Phillips said. “I’m close with those guys. I talk to (Cubs Chairman) Tom (Ricketts) all the time. Everyone is motivated to do it. It’s really on their timeline.”
As noted by Greenstein in his original report, Northwestern and the Cubs previously agreed to stage five football game sin Wrigley Field in 2013, but no definite dates were set with that original agreement. The Cubs know they would have to make some adjustments in order to make college football a more enjoyable experience, having learned the lessons of what is and what is not working a few years ago.
“We would move the dugout top, and that would allow us to put a 12-foot perimeter around the whole field,” Cubs president Crane Kenney said in 2013. That would certainly be a good place to start, and perhaps would help eliminate the need for both teams to play going the same way on the field in the future, as they did in 2010.
Northwestern and Illinois played each other in Soldier Field last fall, and will do so again in the more traditional football stadium in 2017 and 2019. These are home games for the Illini, who just hired former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith this offseason.