Sneed exclusive: NIU to play football at the Cell next year

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Play Ball!

The diamond at the Cell is turning into the gridiron.

• Translation: Sneed has learned pigskin will be in play next year for the first time at U.S. Cellular Field!

“U.S. Cellular Field will see new use in 2016 with NCAA football,” said a top Sneed source.

• Further translation: The first football game ever played at The Cell, home of the White Sox, is coming next year.

• The scoop: Sneed is told DeKalb’s Northern Illinois University is headed to the South Side Cell!

• To wit: The NIU Huskies, fresh off a near-upset of No. 1 ranked Ohio State University, are gearing up to play a home game at the baseball stadium next year.

• $$$$ Word is the move may be a first in attracting new events to the field, which once hosted concerts.

• A history note: In 2008, following the shooting at Northern Illinois that left five students dead, the White Sox wore NIU hats during the first game of spring training. Team Manager Ozzie Guillen and General Manager Kenny Williams wore the hats when they arrived at spring training that year.

• A backstory: The old Chicago Cardinals football team used to play at Comiskey Park, years before it morphed into U.S. Cellular Field. They subsequently moved to St. Louis before finally taking up residence in Arizona.

Asked about the development by phone on Thursday, Illinois Sports Facilities Authority chief Lou Bertuca stayed mum, only noting to Sneed that “there are lots of Huskies fans in Chicago.”

Cheers all around!


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Quite a day

• The pope’s choice: The late Dorothy Day, who was singled out by Pope Francis in his list of four fabulous Americans while addressing Congress Thursday, is not only on the road to canonization — but she once lived in Chicago and attended the University of Illinois before dropping out to move to New York and start her career.

• Backshot: Day, a journalist who founded a Catholic newspaper promoting social justice and worked tirelessly to establish settlement homes for those in need, has become an example of what the church will consider a saint of today’s world; a woman whose history included an abortion and then a daughter out of wedlock. While pregnant, Day converted to Catholicism so her child could be baptized.

Her story is amazing. Please check it out.

The papal file

Activist peace priest Rev. Michael Pfleger, who is fighting the city’s gun scourge, was invited by U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly to hear the pope’s congressional address.

• Shock & awe: Pfleger tells Sneed, “When Pope Francis extolled Martin Luther King — and then directly addressed the sale of deadly weapons to those who plan to inflict untold suffering and that the reason was money — I could have run around the Capitol! He couldn’t have said it any better. He hit the right tone when he said the reason is drenched in blood.”

• Top tip: Watch for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to help celebrate Education Sunday Mass this weekend at St. Sabina Catholic Church as guest speaker. “Every year we celebrate education at the beginning of the school year, and who better to address the issue than the one who has spent the last six years addressing education in America,” said Pfleger, St. Sabina’s legendary pastor.

Otter fodder

Gazillionaire “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling said she voted on the name for the baby otter at the Shedd Aquarium.

• She tweeted: “I voted on this orphaned otter’s name. My favourite animal named for one of my favourite characters!”

• The reason: The baby otter, whose photos took over the Internet last year, is named Luna — similar to a Harry Potter character named Luna Lovegood.

I spy

Actress Daryl “Splash” Hannah, a Chicago area native, was spotted at Gibsons on Sunday with her new boyfriend, legendary singer Neil Young. . . . Super Bowl Champion and former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon dined at Gibsons Steakhouse on Rush last week . . . as did hedge fund manager Jim Chanos, actor John Cusack and Sean Conlon, chairman of Conlon & Co.


Friday’s birthdays: Will Smith, 47; Scottie Pippen, 50, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, 46.

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