By Adam Harris-
WRIGLEY FIELD (CBS) The Chicago Cubs and Northwestern University announced what they are calling an “innovative, multi-year event and reciprocal marketing partnership” Tuesday that will include five Wildcats football games at Wrigley Field.
The football games are dependent on the pending Wrigley Field renovations so it is unclear when they will be played. Northwestern hosted Illinois at Wrigley in 2010 but both teams had to go in the same direction on offense because of space limitations.
Officials said Tuesday that there will be no football games at Wrigley Field in 2013. They also said it is not guaranteed that there will be one game a season and there will be no games scheduled in October.
“We are reserving October for postseason baseball, so we are mainly looking at November,” Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenny said Tuesday at Wrigley Field. “We have agreed to play five football games. It [the contract] is relatively loose on when it ends.”
Right now the contract runs through 2017, but is flexible and will not interfere with the possible construction at Wrigley Field. In fact, Kenney said construction will include plans to make the football game at Wrigley possible without the sideline issues they encountered in 2010.
“We have to move the dugout, and that would allow us to put a 12-foot perimeter around the whole field which would satisfy the NCAA,” Kenney said. “That’s not an issue with enough time and that is part of our renovation plan.”
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was at Tuesday’s press conference as well and declined to comment on the progress of the Wrigley Field renovation project, but did push the timing of it. The Cubs need time to notify Northwestern if they will play in 2014 due to construction.
“We kind of have to know a few months in advance,” Ricketts said. “I’m not sure what the hard deadline is, but we would like to know pretty soon whether or not this is the season we get started.”
Football will not be the only sport at Wrigley due to the agreement. The Northwestern baseball team will host Michigan at Wrigley in April and the women’s lacrosse team will use the ballpark in the future as well.
Benefits To Northwestern Football
NU Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald is obviously excited about this agreement. He now gets to tell possible recruits they are guaranteed to play a football game at historic Wrigley Field.
“This will be a unique tradition,Fitzgerald said. “This is what you look for when you are building a brand, and we are building a brand … All the things that encompass being a Wildcat. Now you can add another fact to that.”
Fitzgerald participated in the Wildcats’ loss to the Fighting Illini back in 2010 and now has a selling point, adding to his program of growing success to potential recruits.
“To have that kind of opportunity in recruiting to attract young men for a unique experience, that no one else can sell, along with what we already have is something that was very appealing to myself and our staff,” Fitzgerald said. “To tell kids that we are right now talking to right now for future signing days, ‘You’re going to play in Wrigley Field,’ I think that will be something exciting for kids.”