If NYC can host a bowl game, so can Chicago WRIGLEY FIELD
On Monday, the latest bowl season will come to an end when Clemson or Alabama wins the national championship.
Much like the Super Bowl, don’t expect college football’s signature event to be played in Chicago anytime soon. However, the idea of bringing a postseason game to the Windy City is gaining momentum. The Cubs want to be first in line for hosting duties. On Thursday, the Tribune reported that the team is interested in drawing a bowl game to Wrigley Field.
The main blueprints for this movement can be found in New York City’s Pinstripe Bowl, which is played at Yankee Stadium; Northwestern won the 2016 edition. The Music City Bowl, held in Nashville, also is similar to what a Chicago bowl game might be in terms of weather and easy access to cultural attractions.
“I think bowls should also be an educational experience for the kids, and New York is second to none,” said Pinstripe Bowl executive director Mark Holtzman, who also serves as Yankees’ executive director of nonbaseball revenue. “I think the other major markets, like Chicago, Boston, the educational experience for kids who have never been there before, they take something away from these games that’s an eye-opener.”
Skeptics will point to cold weather as an obstacle, but Holtzman had the perfect response.
“I think we got a little bit of a stigma with ‘cold weather climate’ when in reality,” he said, “... when you look at the temperatures of some of the other bowl games—Nashville, Birmingham, Charlotte—there’s not that much of a temperature difference.”
The 2016 Pinstripe Bowl temperature at kickoff was 39 degrees, while the Music City Bowl often sees temps in the 30s.
If Chicago is going to be brought into the bowl-game fold, there would be three frontrunners for the site. As the 1060 Project to renovate Wrigley Field progresses, the venue would have modern amenities to supplement the novelty of playing in a storied, century-old ballpark. Cubs President Crane Kenney told the Tribune that the end zone issue from the 2010 Northwestern-Illinois game could be easily resolved. In that contest, the team on offense had to advance toward only one end zone because the other was too close to a brick wall and was deemed dangerous to the players.
That said, both the Yankees and Red Sox (Fenway Park hosted Notre Dame-Boston College in 2015) have made stadium logistics work, and the Cubs can too.
What to call it: The Ivy Bowl, Friendly Confines Bowl or Cubbie Bowl.
As is the case with Nashville’s Music City Bowl, Soldier Field is a modern NFL venue on the city’s waterfront within walking distance of a number of hotels and tourist destinations. That’s critical because bowl games are about more than just football for the teams and fans.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald and his team visited numerous New York sights leading up to the Pinstripe Bowl, including the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum.
In an increasingly crowded bowl landscape, the games and cities offering culturally enriching experiences will stand out. Nashville has seen its bowl game rise up the pecking order in terms of the caliber of teams it attracts, despite being around only since 1998.
What to call it: The Lakeshore Bowl or Midway Bowl come to mind.
GUARANTEED RATE FIELD
The “G Spot,” or whatever the nickname of the venue will be, hosted college football in its first event of the post-U.S. Cellular Field era. While only about 10,000 fans turned out for Northern Illinois vs. Toledo, the contest on Nov. 9 went off without a hitch logistically.
What to call it: The hashtag #BetterSox StadiumNames demonstrated the creative power Chicago has for branding, so putting it to use again might be worthwhile. Otherwise, the Silver and Black Bowl would do.