Illinois and Northwestern, in-state rivals that have battled since 1892, will play three future football games at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois Director of Athletics Mike Thomas announced today.
The first contest in set for this season on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. The two will also meet at Soldier Field on Nov. 25, 2017 and Nov. 30, 2019. All three games were previously home games for Illinois.
“It’s exciting to seize the opportunity to further engage our incredible number of Illinois alumni and fans in the Chicagoland area with these three football games coming to Soldier Field,” Thomas said. “As the flagship university in the state we are committed to all Fighting Illini, and as part of that mindset, we will continue to bring a variety of athletics events to Chicago where we have the largest alumni base of any Big Ten institution.
“By taking these Thanksgiving weekend games to Soldier Field, we will provide a great environment for our student-athletes, fans and students who are already in the Chicagoland area for the holiday, and it becomes a destination game for all Fighting Illini fans. Ending the regular season at a historical site and one of the best stadiums in the world will make for a big-time event for our student-athletes and will be a great springboard for our football program into the postseason. Recruits want to experience greatness, and this is the latest in a long line of connections between the dominant football brands in our state that start with the earliest days of the NFL with Halas and Grange, and stretch through Butkus, Caroline, and many other former Illini through the decades.”
Soldier Field is the home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears. Completed in 1924 and renovated in 2003, it has a seating capacity of 61,500.
Illinois and Northwestern have met 108 times on the gridiron and battle for the Land of Lincoln Trophy. In their last meeting on Nov. 29, 2014, the Fighting Illini defeated the Wildcats 47-33 in Evanston to extend their lead in the overall series to 55-48-5.