CHICAGO — The “Friendly Confines” will once again play host to a sport which it has extensive history in the past and more recent history with a particular school.
In fact, Northwestern is hoping that the third time will be the charm at Wrigley Field.
That’s because the Wildcats will play in the baseball stadium for a third time in school history as they host Iowa at 11:10 a.m. on Saturday afternoon. It’s just the third football game held in the venue since the Bears moved to Soldier Field at the conclusion of the 1970, playing their last game against the Packers on December 13 of that season.
“An opportunity to be a part of a football game at Wrigley Field, what a unique, special experience,” said Northwestern interim head coach David Braun of the game at the “Friendly Confines.” “To say that I’m getting an opportunity coach in that game, pretty, pretty special. Really excited for our fanbase to experience it, our players to experience this. Really excited for my two boys to get an opportunity to experience this.
“It’s going to be a special day.”
While the atmosphere will be something to experience, there is work for Braun’s Wildcats to do as they continue what’s been a surprise 2023 season so far. Expected to struggle after a tumultueous summer that saw Pat Fitzgerald fired amidst a hazing scandal, Northwestern enters November 4-4 after an upset victory over Maryland in Evanston and in a position to earn a bowl bid with four games left.
Winning against Iowa not only would help the Wildcats get a step closer to the postseason, but also the chance to snap a losing streak at the venue.
On Novemeber 20, 2010, the first football game at Wrigley Field in 30 years and the first college contest in the sport since 1938, Illinois defeated Northwestern 48-27. Eleven years to the day, on November 20, 2021, the Wildcats lost to Purdue 32-14 as the teams played in the renovated Wrigley Field that allowed for the full field to fit.
The chance to get the program’s first win at the “Friendly Confines” is upon them once again, where the task at hand is top of mind, with memories of their historic venue serving as a backdrop.
“It’s just another pinch yourself moment,” said Braun of Saturday. “The first baseball game I ever went to, professional game I ever went to was with my dad at Wrigley Field.”
Now one of the opening games of his college football head coaching career will be staged at the same place, with plenty at stake for 2023 and in Northwestern football history.