Wrigley Field is ‘near lock’ to host bowl game in 2020: report

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Wrigley Field is a “near lock” to hold bowl game in 2020, according to report. | Madeline Kenney/Sun-Times

There’s a good chance Wrigley Field could host two college football games during the 2020 season.

Northwestern will host Wisconsin on Nov. 7, 2020, but a new report suggests that discussions are ongoing for Wrigley to play host to a bowl game, too.

The NCAA’s competition committee recommended the addition of three new bowl games for the 2020 season, which would bring the total number of bowls to a record 43, allowing 66 percent of the 130 FBS schools to play in the postseason, according to Brett McMurphy, a college football insider, who has worked at ESPN and CBSSports.com.

Wrigley Field along with Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, are “near locks” to be hosts in 2020, McMurphy said.

The Chicago bowl will match a Big Ten team against an ACC opponent, according to McMurphy, who said that the Big Ten is expected to cut ties with the San Francisco Bowl after 2019.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney recently said that Chicago is an ideal destination for a bowl game.

“If New York is a good place for a bowl game, why isn’t Chicago a great place?” Kenney said. “And obviously a storied venue adds to it.”

Kenney previously had said that the Cubs were in “conversations with a number of conferences” about hosting a bowl game in 2020.

Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips and coach Pat Fitzgerald believe that Wrigley Field is a good fit for a bowl.

“I absolutely could see a bowl game here,” Phillips said.

“As a Chicagoan, I will tell you this,” Fitzgerald said, “If they can play at Yankee Stadium [for the Pinstripe Bowl], they can play one here without a doubt.”

Wrigley Field was the home to the Bears from 1921 to 1970 before the team relocated to Soldier Field.

Northwestern’s last game at Wrigley — in 2010 against Illinois — was memorable because both teams’ offenses were forced to drive in one direction because the entire football configuration couldn’t entirely fit within the existing field dimensions.

But Kenney promises that Wrigley’s renovations allow for a full football field. The top of the Cubs’ dugout can be removed and covered with a platform. Also, the first four rows on the west side of the stadium are on a temporary platform and can be removed.

The NCAA competition committee’s recommendations are expected to be approved Tuesday by the NCAA’s Football Oversight Committee, McMurphy said.

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