Wrigley Field Safe for Play, Should Make Northwestern-Illinois Football Contest Memorable


Football may have stolen the title from baseball as America's pastime, but baseball stadiums still hold the crown for the most revered sports sanctuaries. Playing another sport in a baseball stadium instantly increases the game's allure.

The Bruins took the ice in Fenway Park for the Winter Classic, and now the home to the previous year's Winter Classic is being fit for football, as Northwestern University will face the University of Illinois for the first football game at Wrigley Field since 1970.

A baseball stadium doesn't make an ideal home for a football team, but as a special event, the location treats fans to a novelty. And for two teams that don't get much national attention, playing at Wrigley helps the programs.

Some have expressed concern over the layout of the field. Part of one end zone only has six inches of room between the back line and the ivy wall, with only light padding around it. The other end zone lies in front of the third base dugout protected by padding.

While the stadium does have some oddities, it seems highly improbable that the NCAA would allow the game to be played in unsafe conditions. The padding may look light, but it has to be enough, considering that the Bears played at Wrigley from 1921-1970 without any problems.

And for those who think the NCAA would overlook any safety hazards due to the money that the game could draw in, the precedent just isn't there. There's too much liability for the NCAA if there was a serious threat of a kid smacking into a brick wall after catching a touchdown.

Playing at Wrigley will be safe and should be a fun game. At 7-3 and ranked 25th by the USA Today Coaches Poll, Northwestern can show the nation that it's an elite team playing in one of the nation's most prestigious stadiums.

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