Print and Go Back Chicago Colleges [Print without images]

Saturday, November 20, 2010
NU fans recall seeing Bears at Wrigley

By Kevin Allen

Wrigley Field
Northwestern, the home team on Saturday at Wrigley, is pulling out all the stops.

The last time Jeff McKenzie saw football at Wrigley Field, “it was cold and the players seemed huge,” he said while standing among the gathered crowd at Clark and Addison streets for the taping of ESPN's "College GameDay."

Forty-two years later, McKenzie, a 1984 Northwestern grad, will again take in a football game at Wrigley -- this time with his own son, 2003 Northwestern grad Zach McKenzie.

As Zach held up a sign -- an oversized photo of himself beaming in Wildcat purple -- Jeff recalled seeing the game with his father as a 6 year old.

 “It was fun,” he said. “My dad was totally into it. When you're a little kid and your father's into the game, you get into the game because of it. It's great to be able to share this with my son.”

McKenzie isn't the only fan excited to see football back at Wrigley. 

Mike Hayes, a 1975 Northwestern grad who lives five blocks from the stadium, was there when the Bears beat the Philadelphia Eagles 20-16 in 1970.

“The first thing I thought of when I heard they were going to play here was how close the end line was to the left field wall in those days,” Hayes said. “I don't know why all the controversy [about the field configuration] came about yesterday, but it's the first thing I thought of. It's a great happening to have the game here, but it's just not a great venue. It wasn't built for football.”

Hayes was admittedly initially skeptical about the Wildcats holding a game at Wrigley -- his seats at Ryan Field in Evanston are situated at the 50-yard line – but he's come around to the idea, noting that it felt like a second homecoming game for the school.

“I think they've done a really good job publicizing it and making the most of it,” Hayes said. "I've been won over.”

Nevertheless, he's hoping his seats are better than they were in 1970.

"I remember that from the Bears games -- there were a lot of terrible seats," he said.