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
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.
'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.
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is the primary content provider of HailToPurple.com. His commentary
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in the offseason.