The last time Northwestern played a football game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 20, 2010, the setup was farcical. Because of the tight configuration to fit a football field within the baseball field, Illinois and NU were forced to play toward one end zone.
That holiday season, Wildcats athletic director Jim Phillips’ stocking was filled with tape measures — playful jabs from family and friends who were having a little fun at his expense.
“I knew we couldn’t come back until we had the field worked out,” Phillips said.
A decade later, coach Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats are scheduled to return to the Friendly Confines, and this time, Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney promises the teams will be able to play toward both end zones.
With winds that made it feel like football weather Tuesday, Cubs and NU officials announced that the Wildcats will return to Wrigley Field and host Wisconsin on Nov. 7, 2020.
By selecting Wisconsin as its opponent, NU eliminated the possibility of a rematch at Wrigley with Illinois, which beat the Wildcats 48-27 in the 2010 game.
Kenney explained how Wrigley’s renovations allow for a full football field.
The top of the Cubs’ dugout can be removed, and a platform can be placed over it. Also, the first four rows on the west side of the stadium are on a temporary platform and can be removed.
NU fans most likely can look forward to more games at Wrigley as the relationship between the Wildcats and Cubs looks bright.
Phillips and Kenney call each other good friends and said their original partnership was made off a “handshake and a thank-you.”
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Phillips and Kenney expect to have conversations in the future about making NU football games regular events at Wrigley Field.
“We had some intentions of some regularly [in 2010],” Phillips said. “I don’t know if it’s every year, truthfully.”
“We haven’t talked about long-term,” Kenney said. “But let’s assume November 2020 goes well, we’ll probably do something after that.”