11/19 Cubs surprised by Big Ten decision
Cubs president Crane Kenney said Friday he was “surprised” by the last-minute change by the Big Ten, which will eliminate use of the east end zone in the Illinois-Northwestern football game. Kenney said the safety of the student-athletes was the No. 1 priority when the game was first discussed more than one year ago.
“The essential item in our negotiations to host the football game at Wrigley Field was obtaining approval of both universities and the Big Ten for the field dimensions as related to player safety issues,” Kenney said in a statement. “The field dimension layout was delivered to the Big Ten approximately eight months ago and was approved by the conference.”
Kenney said the field was built exactly to the dimensions previously approved and a conference official performed an on-site visit at Wrigley Field last week. He said there were no issues raised at that time regarding the field dimensions, painted lines and boundaries, which had all been green-lighted by the Big Ten.
“This game would not have been scheduled if it did not pass the strict and meticulous standards of everyone involved, a process that began more than a year ago,” Kenney said. “All are in agreement Wrigley Field is a safe venue to host a football game. Other baseball parks, including tomorrow night’s game in Yankee Stadium, feature similar football field-to-venue grid dimensions and rule changes are not considered for football games played in other baseball parks.
“We have reached out to the Big Ten to further discuss the playing field,” Kenney said. “While we are surprised by this morning’s last-minute statement, all agree that tomorrow will be an historic event and a wonderful experience for the fans, the schools and the student-athletes.”
— Carrie Muskat