Cubs and Northwestern are bringing football back to Wrigley

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Chicago Cubs and Northwestern University Athletics announced a historic partnership on Tuesday that will bring football back to Wrigley Field for the first time since Northwestern and Illinois squared off in 2010. The multiyear, innovative event and reciprocal marketing partnership will showcase a wide range of Wildcats athletic programs—including baseball, lacrosse and five Northwestern football games—at historic Wrigley Field in the coming years.

“We are thrilled to partner with a professional sports franchise as iconic as the Chicago Cubs in an agreement that truly is the first of its kind,” said Jim Phillips, Northwestern University vice president for athletics and recreation. “As Chicago’s Big Ten team, this is a natural fit that will create tremendous opportunities for our student-athletes, our coaches and our fans in the area.”

As part of the partnership, the Friendly Confines will potentially serve as a home venue for many of Northwestern’s 19 varsity programs over the coming years. Two sports programs have set tentative dates to kick off the partnership. On April 20, Northwestern baseball will host the Michigan Wolverines in a Big Ten matchup. In spring 2014, the Wildcats’ women’s lacrosse team, winner of seven of the last eight NCAA championships under head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, plans to host regional rival Notre Dame.

According to Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney, all profits from these events will go back into the Cubs baseball operations. The dates of the five football games are yet to be determined, as Big Ten schedules are being reworked due to the additions of Maryland and Rutgers. The restoration of Wrigley Field is also a factor.

“To do this on a consistent basis, we have to have a renovation of the park so that the field fits the right way,” said Cubs owner Tom Ricketts. “But we’ve anticipated that in our designs, and we look forward to making sure we get the right renovations in so we can hold a [football] game every year.”

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