Evanston mayor tackles plan to move NU Wildcats games to Wrigley
BY BOB SEIDENBERG | firstname.lastname@example.org March 8, 2013 4:32PM
The Wrigley Field marquee was painted purple in preparation for the 2010 Allstate Wrigleyville Classic between Northwestern and Illinois.However, Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said Friday that Wildcats game will not be a regular occurence at the “home
Updated: April 15, 2013 6:35AM
EVANSTON — The agreement to move five Northwestern University home football games to Wrigley Field may not be set in stone, Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said Friday during her State of the City address at the Hotel Hilton Orrington.
“There’s a new twist,” Tisdahl said.
On Feb. 5, Northwestern Athletics and the Chicago Cubs announced a multi-year event and marketing partnership that would allow Wildcats athletic programs to use of the 99-year-old landmark stadiu.
The deal includes baseball, lacrosse and five Wildcats football games.
The dates for the five football games, according to a university release from the date of the announcement, are “pending due to the scheduling of the Wrigley Field restoration project.”
Some in the Evanston business community did not react well to the announcement – which also caught city officials unaware. The city’s restaurant and hospitality industries do extra business on NU football game days, especially since the university has started winning.
Taking a gentle swipe at the move, Tisdahl used Friday’s address to assure business leaders that the Wildcats are not abandoning Evanston for the “Home of the Lovable Losers.”
“If Wrigley is reconstructed and can accommodate a football game – that’s a big if – then NU President (Morton) Schapiro assured me that Evanston will keep six home games a year at Ryan Field,” Tisdahl told her audience at the Chamber sponsored event. “Only when there is a seventh home game will one be played at Wrigley, and it will not be against a marquee team that sells out.”
Schapiro and university spokesman Alan Cubbage were attending university trustees’ meetings Friday in Chicago, and could not immediately be reached for comment.
Two sports programs have set dates to play at Wrigley; Northwestern baseball will the University of Michigan April 20, and the women’s lacrosse team plans to host the University of Notre Dame in 2014.
The city and university have maintained a close relationship under Tisdahl’s tenure.
“Relations with NU are strong,” she said in her speech. “(the University is) giving fabulous support to Evanston Township High School and District 65. At the same time there are issues, and there will continue to be issues.
“NU seeks to grow on a finite amount of land and brings large numbers of 18-year-olds to Evanston, away at last from all parental supervision.”
Meanwhile, the city seeks greater participation by Evanston residents and Evanston businesses in the work resulting from all new construction now occurring on campus, she said.
“We want to retain NU businesses that are incubated on campus and outgrow their space,” she said. “Evanston businesses want to benefit from NU’s yearly purchasing power.”