Northwestern football to play Illinois and Ohio State at Wrigley Field this year

Illinois plays against Northwestern during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, in Chicago, on Nov. 20, 2010. Wrigley Field will host a college football game for the third time since 2010 when Iowa plays Northwestern next season on Nov. 4, 2023, Northwestern and the Chicago Cubs announced Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

 

Northwestern’s football team will play its first five home games at its temporary on-campus stadium this year, the school announced Wednesday. The Wildcats’ two most compelling games, however, will be at Wrigley Field.

The Wildcats will play Ohio State on Nov. 16 and rival Illinois on Nov. 30, both at the Friendly Confines. The Cubs’ home stadium was available for college games, but not until November, when the baseball playoffs will have ended.

Their on-campus home games will come against Miami (Ohio) on Aug. 31, Duke on Sept. 7, Eastern Illinois on Sept. 14, Indiana on Oct. 5 and Wisconsin on Oct. 19.

Northwestern began demolishing their home for the almost 100 years, Ryan Field — only a skeleton of the press box remains — about three months ago. They plan to open a new stadium in 2026 on the same site.

Their search for a stadium in which to play in the interim years had been the subject of intrigue since the team announced construction plan.

Last month, the Wildcats announced plans to expand the Lanny and Sharon Martin Lakeside Facility, the lacrosse/soccer stadium on their lakefront campus in Evanston. InProduction, which built stands for last summer’s NASCAR race downtown, will construct the facility this summer. It’s expected to hold about 15,000 fans. The structure will stand for the next two football seasons, with the lacrosse and men’s and women’s soccer teams also using it.

Prior to deciding to build the temporary stadium, Northwestern considered playing games at Seat Geek Stadium, the former Fire home in Bridgeview, as well as Soldier Field. The latter would have proven difficult — the Bears and Fire are primary tenants.

Northwestern will give priority to 2023 season ticket-holders when distributing tickets at the smaller on-campus stadium. It’s unclear whether the school will allow fans to park on campus —there’s one garage within walking distance — or have them take a shuttle from nearby lots in Evanston.

Wrigley Field has hosted three college games since 1938 — all played by Northwestern. The Wildcats played Illinois in 2010, Purdue in 2021 and Iowa last year.

The Big Ten will announce start times and television networks later this summer.

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