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Fitz says playing at Wrigley Field will help recruiting

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Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald said playing games at Wrigley Field will only help him on the recruiting trail.

"We're trying to win a Big Ten and national championship and to have that attraction in recruiting where we can give young man the unique experience no one else can sell along with everything we already have was something that was very appealing to myself and my staff," Fitzgerald said. "We're talking to kids we'll see in future signing days and saying, 'We're going to be playing in Wrigley Field.'"

Northwestern held a joint press conference with the Cubs on Tuesday to announce a flexible five-year business partnership that could see Northwestern play as many as five games at Wrigley Field, most likely starting in 2014.

The NU baseball team will host Michigan at Wrigley on April 20. In 2014, the women's lacrosse team will host Notre Dame with opportunities for other sports to compete in the iconic venue in future years.

"For us to have an opportunity to play in this stadium, I don't think it gets any better," NU baseball coach Paul Stevens said.

A renovation of Wrigley Field will allow for a regulation football field, which wasn't the case when Northwestern and Illinois played in the former Bears home in 2010.

The Big Ten decided the day before that game to use only one end zone for offense because of safety concerns. NCAA rules mandate there must be adequate space surrounding the playing surface, which wasn't the case in the east end zone, which was within a few feet of the right-field wall.

Kenney said the Cubs have a short-term solution that includes moving a dugout roof, which would allow for a 12-foot perimeter around the field, satisfying NCAA safety requirements.

That said, it's unlikely the Wildcats will play at Wrigley Field in 2013 for a variety of reasons. Northwestern athletics director Jim Phillips said the Big Ten's recent addition of two new members complicates future schedules and makes 2014 a better target date.

Wrigley will host football games in November, after the Cubs season ends.

The Northwestern baseball team will host Michigan at Wrigley Field April 20, the seven-time national champion women's lacrosse team in 2014 and the soccer or softball teams following in 2015.

"This will be our home and we will select who we play against," Phillips said when asked if Illinois could be an annual football opponent. "There's not going to be any school we just write in and say we're going to play them every year in the place. We want different opponents, honestly. We'd like to meet a variety of Big Ten opponents at Wrigley eventually."

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on February 5, 2013 12:33 PM.

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