Northwestern football will host games at Wrigley Field in 2022, 2024 and 2026, head coach Pat Fitzgerald said in an interview on a 247Sports podcast that was released this past weekend.
Fitzgerald mentioned the ‘Cats’ plans to play at the home of the Chicago Cubs in upcoming seasons while discussing how the program had recruits tour the historic ballpark during a recent official visit. In the interview, Fitz called Wrigley Northwestern’s “second home.” That wasn’t the first time the team has used the messaging:
The Wildcats’ partnership with Wrigley Field began back in 2010 when Northwestern and Illinois squared off in the “Wrigleyville Classic” in late November. The game attracted national attention: ESPN’s College GameDay hosted its weekly show on the corner of Addison and Clark. The weekend was also noteworthy for the teams being forced to play with the use of only one end zone due to last minute safety concerns.
Last year, the program announced that Northwestern would take on Wisconsin at the “Friendly Confines” for its 2020 home conference game against the Badgers, but Fitzgerald’s announcement on the 247Sports podcast for three more planned games suggests some sort of planned partnership between Northwestern and the Cubs for the foreseeable future.
Fitzgerald did not specify who Northwestern’s opponents would be for the 2022/2024/2026 Wrigley games, but with the ‘Cats ability to play at Wrigley limited to November because of baseball season, it is likely that all three will be Big Ten contests. With Illinois slotted into the Thanksgiving weekend slot for all three of those seasons, at least one game seems likely to take place against the Illini.
That being said, Northwestern’s decision to play the 2020 Wisconsin game at Wrigley indicates the program’s willingness to schedule marquee and potentially crucial conference matchups away from Ryan Field. With that in mind, the prospects for the 2022/2024/2026 Wrigley Games could get interesting.
In 2022, the Wildcats are scheduled to play Ohio State at home on November 5 as well as Illinois in the typical late November game. Could NU be set to host the Buckeyes at Wrigley?
Northwestern’s two scheduled 2024 November home games are against Wisconsin and Illinois., and the ‘Cats have not yet released their schedule for 2026.
Although Fitz doesn’t spend much time talking about the Northwestern-Wrigley connection on the podcast (full interview can be heard here), the Wildcat football program clearly values it as a recruiting/marketing tool.
Now that it appears the Wildcats will be playing four home games at Wrigley over the course of the next decade, perhaps Fitz and the program really are serious about turning the Cubs ballpark and Chicago icon into Northwestern’s “second home.”
How do you feel about all these potential “home” games away from Ryan Field? Let us know in the comments below!