Wrigley field football is an obviously nostalgic concept. However, an actual Wrigley Field football game could become one big joke. The dimensions of the famous stadium may not be good for this sport, especially in what is now the east end zone. The stadium’s famous brick wall is mere inches from the back of that end zone, yet officials just now realized the safety risk. As such, the first Wrigley Field football game in decades is now perhaps the first one-way game ever.
Stadium officials and the Big Ten had months to plan for this special game between Illinois and Northwestern. However, in all that time, they didn’t realize how close the famed outfield wall was to the east end zone.
To avoid dangerous collisions in that wall, the Wrigley Field football game will literally change directions. Both Illinois and Northwestern will try to score in the west end zone, with no offensive plays in the east direction. The decision is being applauded for safety reasons – and mocked for almost every other reason.
This game was first announced 18 months ago, yet those in charge didn’t see the danger until it was too late. The stadium’s dimensions have tightened since the Bears last played there in the 60’s, but the Big Ten and the Wrigley owners paid it no mind. Now their special occasion has become a comical, cautionary tale about the lack of hindsight.
Today, both Wrigley Field football and Yankee Stadium football will be held for the first time in decades. However, the new Yankee Stadium has managed to safely fit their new end zones in for Notre Dame and Army. Illinois and Northwestern have gotten no such luck, and have to adjust accordingly.
The east end zone could still see some action, as punt returns, fumbles and interceptions can be run back for touchdowns there. However, the players would have to slow down, so as to avoid hitting the wall. But if someone is on their heels, that could be a harder task.
The last minute changes have provided enough embarrassment, but it would be even worse if they didn’t prevent a brick wall collision anyway. Wrigley Field football was supposed to be a celebration of the legendary park in a new setting. Instead, it has become a punchline – and since no BCS leaders are in action today, it is the story of the weekend.
In the middle of all this, Illinois and Northwestern are playing a big game, as the Illini try to become bowl eligible, and the Wildcats go for their eighth win. The two will step onto Wrigley Field at 3:30 pm est on ESPN U.
Chicago Sun Times- “Big Ten changes rules for football game at Wrigley Field”
Minneapolis Star Tribune- “The ridiculousness of the one end zone Wrigley Field football game”