Northern Illinois to play Toledo in 2016 football game at U.S. Cellular Field – Chicago Tribune
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Northern Illinois will play Toledo in football this fall at U.S. Cellular Field, the Tribune has learned. NIU and Illinois Sports Facilities Authority officials will make the formal announcement Wednesday at the Cell, when they will reveal other details, such as the date.
NIU athletic director Sean Frazier, football coach Rod Carey, ISFA CEO Lou Bertuca and White Sox Vice President Brooks Boyer will make the announcement at 10:30 a.m.
ISFA has been under pressure to generate more revenue, especially in the wake of Wrigley Field hosting several concerts each year. Wrigley also hosted a 2010 football game between Northwestern and Illinois, and Northwestern has a deal with the Cubs to play five future football games at Wrigley, with the dates pending.
One source said the goal for the NIU game is to attract at least 30,000 fans to the Cell, which has a baseball capacity of 40,615. The process was complicated by the need for approval from the Mid-American Conference and a TV partner such as ESPN. And the Sox had to be satisfied there would be no long-term damage to the field.
The game will be the Huskies’ first in Chicago since 2012, when they played at Soldier Field for the third time in six seasons. NIU scheduled a game against Nebraska for Soldier Field this fall, but Nebraska canceled in 2013 because of the Big Ten schedule expanding to nine games.