Commentary: The Wrigley Game - Already a Success
by Jonathan Hodges

In late 2009, Northwestern Athletic Director Jim Phillips made a big push to get an upcoming Wildcat home game moved to Wrigley Field, and he came through with an official announcement in the spring that the 2010 meeting between Northwestern and Illinois would indeed be moved to the Friendly Confines.  It was a debatable move at the time, as Wrigley has a smaller capacity than Ryan Field (42,157 vs. 47,130) and the move would leave the 'Cats with just 5 true home games in 2010.  Also, tickets would be quite pricey (ranging from $50 to $150) and would not be included in the normal season ticket package (where Big Ten games come out to $36 per seat), although season tickets would be required in order to buy a seat.

But now, in the week leading up to the game it is clear that Phillips' decision has been an unbridled success, even without reaching gameday.

Attendance figures for the season, as documented by HailToPurple, have seen the largest year-over-year percentage increase in school history, rocketing up to number last seen in the mid-to-late '90's following Northwestern's back-to-back conference titles.  Much of that increase can definitely be attributed to the Wrigley game and fans scooping up seats in order to get a spot inside the historic stadium come November 20.

And if that huge boost in attendance wasn't enough, the 'Cats pulled off yet another upset of Iowa the week before, directly leading to ESPN's College GameDay visiting Wrigley prior to the game.  The set will be stationed across the street from the historic Wrigley Field sign, which was just painted purple for the occasion.  It will also be surrounded by huge Northwestern football banners featuring various players and Northwestern paraphernalia which will serve as a giant ad for NU that will be broadcast across the nation.  It's clear that NU will be a focal point of college football on Saturday, something that hasn't happened in recent times despite sustained success on the field.

Northwestern also did an admirable job decking out Wrigley in purple, making it look even more like Northwestern's home than Ryan Field itself.  The game is shaping up to be a huge advertisement for Wildcat Football, which will only help build upon the base that Coach Fitz has set during his 5 years at the helm.

Hopefully the 'Cats will capitalize on Saturday by beating the Illini, something to be covered in much more detail later on, but no matter the result, Northwestern has and will capitalize on this unique opportunity.

Go 'Cats!!!

e-mail: j-hodges@alumni.northwestern.edu

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jhodges is the primary content provider of HailToPurple.com.  His commentary and game analyses appear regularly during the season and occasionally in the offseason.