Northern Illinois wants game at Wrigley

Updated: July 27, 2011, 5:27 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Northern Illinois athletic director Jeff Compher said Wednesday he would be interested in the Huskies playing a football game at Wrigley Field.

The Huskies are scheduled to play at Soldier Field against Wisconsin this season and Iowa in 2012, but Compher would like to look at the possibility of Wrigley Field after that.

"We haven't had any formal discussions because we've been focused on this game (against Wisconsin at Soldier Field) and then next year's game here," said Compher during Northern Illinois' media day at Soldier Field on Wednesday. "But I think down the road we can, and I think that's something I would certainly want to have some dialogue about if they're interested."

Compher said he paid close attention to last year's game between Northwestern and Illinois at Wrigley Field.

"Obviously, I was very happy for Northwestern and (its athletic director) Jim Phillips, our former AD here," Compher said. "They built an event around the game. For us, we want to do the same. For us, it's like a bowl game in Chicago. We want that kind of atmosphere. When you can do that and capture that in Wrigleyville, that's a great thing, too."

Compher believes safety issues need to be addressed for football games to be played at Wrigley Field. The Illinois-Northwestern game was played only in one direction because of concerns of the outfield wall being so close to the end zone.

"I think you want to do that," Compher said. "I'm sure that's something that would be on everyone's mind as you approach another possible game. I'm sure they'll get it resolved. They're good people there, and they'll work through that."

Compher would also like to continue to play games at Soldier Field.

"What I would like to do, and (coach) Dave (Doeren) and I have talked about it, every class should have an opportunity to play here," Compher said. "That's what we're trying to do. If we can do it more often, then we might. Every four or five years, I would like to be able to play a game here.

"It just means so much to have that connection with Chicago. We feel we're a part of it. Everything we're trying to do is stay connected with our alumni base, which is huge. It's unlike any place, maybe there's a few like it in the country, but to have that many people that are Huskies who live in one area is a great opportunity for us, so we want to connect."

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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