CHICAGO (WBBM) — The traditional red marquee at Wrigley Field is turning purple as the Northwestern Wildcats take over the ballpark for the Allstate Wrigleyville Classic on Saturday.
The Wildcats are playing host to their in-state rival Illinois this weekend. While the NFL’s Chicago Bears called it home for decades, it’s the first time a college football game has been played at Wrigley since 1938, when DePaul University played its home games there.
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It’s the first time a football game of any kind has been played there in about 40 years, according to the Cubs.
For their part, the Cubs are thrilled to be a part of the college football rivalry.
“I think for us the idea of bringing football to Wrigley is a way to stretch our creative skin a little bit and do something other than baseball,’’ said Cubs’ president Crane Kenney.
The game is a sell-out, and there’s a big buzz on the Northwestern campus.
“I think it’s every Chicago kid’s dream to see Wrigley Field, not only baseball but with its history it had with football,’’ said NU athletic director and Chicago native Jim Phillips.
Putting a gridiron inside a baseball diamond isn’t as easy you might think. Cubs head groundskeeper Roger Baird said crews had to turn out the pitcher’s mound and home plate and level the field. Both teams will be on the same sideline with a barrier in between.
What was the biggest obstacle? The goal post, he told CBS 2’s Megan Mawicke.
“I was never really sure about a goal post – how much was involved,” Baird said. “We had to pour some cement in the ground with quite a deep hole.”
Kickoff on Saturday is set for 2:30 p.m. Underscoring the national interest in the Wrigley game, The Daily Northwestern reports, that ESPN’s college football road show, “College GameDay’’, will be televised from the Friendly Confines.
Tickets for the game were selling on StubHub.com for anywhere from about $55 to $2,500 a ticket.
For those who don’t have a ticket, there will be a street festival outside the park on Sheffield Avenue, otherwise known as Wildcat Way, complete with 10 plasma large screen televisions. Festivities begin at 10 a.m.