With a rich history in the sport, Wrigley Field hosts football again in hopes of more games in the future

WGN News Now

CHICAGO – It’s fitting that the next football game being played at the “Friendly Confines” would come on November 20th of this year. That’s because the last time the venue sported a gridiron was the exact same day 11 years ago.

On November 20, 2010, Wrigley Filed hosted a football contest between Illinois and Northwestern after the sport had been away from the venue for 40 years. While the scenic were pretty, the field was a bit inadequate, the endzone close to the bleachers was too close to the wall and was deemed unsafe.

So the Northwestern offenses went towards the same endzone the entire game, with the Illini winning the game 48-27 behind Mikel LeShoure’s school-record 330 yards rushing.

Eleven years later, the Wildcats are once again the hosts of a contest at Wrigley Field, this time facing Purdue in their second-to-last game of the 2021 season. It was supposed to happen in 2020, but the pandemic pushed their scheduled game with Wisconsin to Ryan Field in Evanston.

That won’t happen this year, as Pat Fitzgerald leads his team onto the turf at Clark and Addison for another game at a most unique football stadium.

“It’s a great honor,” said Fitzgerald of playing at Wrigley Field. “I think the last time I had the privilege to lead a team out onto the venue will be spectacular. Really looking forward to it.”

So are the Cubs, who are hoping to start a new tradition of football at the stadium which has a deeper history in the sport than some modern fans would realize.

From 1921-1970, Wrigley Field was the home to the Chicago Bears, mostly with George Halas leading the team on the field during the franchise’s formative years. The team would play 365 regular season games in the venue, which was the record for the NFL that wasn’t broken till 2003, while also playing host to five NFL Championship Games.

The Bears were 4-1 in those contests, including a 14-10 win over the Giants at a frigid “Friendly Confines’ on December 29, 1963. It was the last to be played at Wrigley Field and was the final one that was won with Halas as head coach.

During that time, the ballpark also played host to Chicago Cardinals football in the 1930s along with DePaul football when they played the sport until 1939.

A half-century later, the Cubs are hoping that a newly renovated stadium that can now safely fit the full 120 yards needed for the field can host future games. That includes a bowl contest, which was talked about during the renovations and remains a hope for the franchise moving forward.

“Our hope is that we would have at least one football game here a year, that’s something that we’re looking at,” said Cubs vice president of communications Julian Green. “We’re absolutely open to hosting bowl games here. I think you’ve seen other bowl games happen at baseball stadiums like Yankee Stadium. So that’s certainly something we’re interested in.”

Which would help to bring another part of Wrigley Field’s past into the future after a major era of transformation at the century-old ballpark.

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