Northwestern University and the University of Illinois played football at Wrigley Field November 20, 2010. The game was a success — except for the Big Ten’s last-minute requirement to play all the action toward the west end zone, even though the east end zone (the right-field bleacher wall) was heavily padded, as you can see in the photo above.
The Cubs and Northwestern have been trying to bring college football back to Wrigley for several years, and recently signed a deal to do so. There was supposed to be a game, this time between NU and the University of Wisconson, November 7, 2020.
Today, Northwestern and the Cubs announced in a joint press release that the game won’t be played at Wrigley Field. The decision was made after close consultation with the Cubs, state and local authorities and the Big Ten Conference, and in consideration of the myriad challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a disappointing conclusion to reach, but absolutely the right one in our current environment,” said Combe Family Vice President for Athletics & Recreation Jim Phillips in a statement. “The uncertainty of football and baseball schedules, and the possibility of limited attendance, made this an easy choice to make for our student-athletes and fans. We’re grateful for our outstanding partners from the Cubs, and look forward to bringing the passion and pageantry of college football gameday to the city’s north side when we can do so safely and securely with a packed house.”
“After consulting with Jim Phillips and Northwestern’s Athletics Department, postponing the next installment of Northwestern football at Wrigley Field made sense given the great number of challenges and uncertainty to navigate in a pandemic environment,” said Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming the Wildcats back to the Friendly Confines to play in front of a capacity crowd of Northwestern fans as soon as possible.”
The release didn’t state whether this game will be played at Dyche Stadium in Evanston (the game is a Northwestern home game), or not be played at all. For now, the college football season is still scheduled to begin in late August or early September, depending on the school, but due to the pandemic that could still change.