New Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has taken a page out of John Henry's playbook and is transforming Wrigley Field into more than a ballpark.
According to the Daily Illini, the Chicago Cubs and Northwestern University announced Friday that Wrigley Field will host a football game between Illinois and Northwestern on Nov. 20.
The venue will feature its first football game in 40 years, and the first contest between collegiate squads since 1938. Northwestern and Illinois last played each other at the Friendly Confines in 1923.
Northwestern will be the home team for the contest, and gets 30,000 of the 42,000 available tickets. Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald expects tremendous support from Northwestern fans when they face their intrastate rival at Wrigley.
"I believe, contrary to some popular beliefs, that this place will be purple and white," Fitzgerald told the paper. "I expect all 30,000 to be purple and white. Otherwise, people will get a personal e-mail and a knock on the door from me."
Northwestern fans will have a better opportunity to watch their team play at Wrigley because the tickets will be sold as they would for a typical Wildcats home game. Illinois may receive only 3,000 tickets for the game, and the remaining 9,000 seats will be made available to Cubs fans.
Wildcats fans may fill the majority of Wrigley's seats, but Illinois head coach Ron Zook understands the game provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience for both schools, regardless of who wins.
"This is a great opportunity for both the Illinois and Northwestern football programs," Zook said in a statement. "The mystique of Wrigley Field will make this an unforgettable experience for the teams and fans of both schools."
Wrigley Field has become a popular venue for non-baseball events, and even hosted the 2009 NHL Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. In addition to hosting the November matchup between the Fighting Illini and Wildcats, the Dave Matthews Band and Paul McCartney will entertain fans at Wrigley this year.
Cubs president Crane Kennedy appreciates the opportunity to make Wrigley Field more than a ballpark.
"We like to stretch our skin a little bit," Kenney said. "There's been a lot of different events here."
And it looks like they'll be a lot more.
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