Cubs officials are preparing Wrigley Field for a second chance at college football.
Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune reports college football will likely return to the Friendly Confines in November 2020, after the ballpark renovations are complete, with Northwestern hosting some Big Ten games being a high priority.
But the big fish to fry here is the potential of hosting bowl games, with Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney telling Greenstein the Cubs “‘absolutely’ intend to begin hosting a bowl game.”
Wrigley Field won’t be the first baseball stadium to host a bowl game. The newest incarnation of Yankees Stadium has hosted the Pinstripe Bowl since 2010.
And if/when Wrigley Field gets a bowl game, it will be its first foray in college football since hosting a Northwestern-Illinois game in 2010. That game infamously featured some odd ground rules, highlighted by all offensive plays operating in the direction of the western end zone on the third base side of the field.
Greeinstein outlines a handful of reasons why a bowl game at Wrigley Field makes sense, so you’ll want to check this out and allow yourself to envision college football returning to Clark and Addison.
Of course, Wrigley Field will be undergoing renovations in the coming years and could be hosting baseball games deep into October. So, it will be interesting to see how college football will fit into the schedule.
Meanwhile, Northwestern’s football team is looking forward to playing at Wrigley Field again. Athletic director Jim Phillips expressed an eagerness to return to Wrigley Field after playing at Yankees Stadium in the Pinstripe Bowl. While the 2020 football schedule won’t be released until next year, it’s not hard to imagine some compelling area match-ups featuring Northwestern and another Big Ten school.
The Cubs and Northwestern have had a partnership that dates back to a 2013, when the two sides came to an agreement to schedule the Wildcats to play football, baseball, and women’s lacrosse games at Wrigley Field.
As for a possible future bowl game, the Cubs have a very attractive venue – albeit a cold weather one – which will probably make it a priority for either a new or an existing bowl when the time comes (even if bowl games in general are scaled back, following a number of less-than-exciting games in recent years).
The upside for the Cubs, of course, outside of the ability to showcase the ballpark, is the potential for added revenue outside the usual 81-game home baseball season.