There are lots of college football bowl games, some in big cities in historic stadiums, and others in high school football stadiums in Alabama. And despite low attendance at many games, and an NCAA moratorium on new bowl discussions until 2019, more cities would like to have bowls of their own.
The biggest? Chicago, which would like to host a bowl at the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field. From the Chicago Tribune:
More intriguing, Kenney said the Cubs "absolutely" intend to begin hosting an annual bowl game.
Football has been played at Wrigley before, and things got pretty weird, as player safety concerns forced Northwestern and Illinois to awkwardly flip end zones during the game, but thanks to new renovations, the field area will be expanded so both teams could have end zones of their very own.
This could actually be a pretty good idea.
Sure, the last time college football was played at Wrigley, the weird configurations made for an embarrassing spectacle, but the upside is still huge. Wrigley Field holds a special cachet that few other stadiums have, and some fans will want to travel and see an event there that they wouldn’t be interested in if it was being played at say, Solider Field, an actual football stadium.
Plus, by 2020, those renovations will include a fancy video board, restaurants, hotels, and this fancy plaza, all in a neighborhood close to plenty of fun things for out-of-towners to visit.
Figuring how to play football in a baseball stadium isn’t easy, but we already play several bowl games in baseball stadiums. The logistics are very doable.
Sure, Chicago is cold, but so what?
As a former Chicago resident, I can confirm Chicago is cold in December and January. Sometimes “freeze-your-nose-hairs-and-curse-loudly” cold. But the dirty secret is that it’s not exactly balmy in bowl cities like Nashville, Boise, Detroit, or Annapolis. The Pinstripe Bowl, held in Yankee Stadium in New York, is often really cold, but the mystique of the stadium, plus the attractions in New York, haven’t prevented the game from being a draw.
There are a ton of college football fans in Chicago, and there’s nothing Big Ten fans would love more than making a Southern team trek up to the Midwest to play in snow. After all, most bowl games are played outside of the Big Ten footprint, a fact Midwesterners are more than happy to point out after they get waxed in another Outback Bowl.
Given the huge number of Big Ten and football fans in Chicago and nearby cities, and the vast number of attractions in the city, there’s a chance this game would be a better draw than lots of other bowl games.
Of course, a Wrigley Bowl would need conference tie-ins (the Big Ten would make sense, and with BTN just a few miles away, there’d be a natural broadcasting partner as well), NCAA approval, and an interesting matchup. And a lot can change between now and 2020.
But bowl games are good, even if it means you have to invite a 5-7 team once in a while. And having a bowl game in an exciting city and historic stadium that should attract plenty of fans, and might give us snow? Sounds great. Maybe you’ll complain on Twitter, but c’mon, you’ll watch it, too.