The Illinois Fighting Illini have decided against future neutral site games with Northwestern at Soldier Field.
Instead of playing Northwestern at Soldier Field, the Fighting Illini will host the Wildcats in Champaign. Meanwhile, Illinois will continue to search for a future non-conference game at the home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears.
“We feel strongly that we should play our traditional rivalry games in Champaign, but at the same time we are committed to a strong presence in Chicago,” athletic director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “Our intent is to play a major non-conference opponent at Soldier Field once every four years. Our team and fans enjoyed the game against Washington in 2013. It is important to maintain exposure in Chicago, and this also allows our fans and student-athletes an opportunity to experience Soldier Field.”
“With our strong ties to Chicago, playing Illinois football in historic Soldier Field will be a highlight for our players,” said head coach Lovie Smith. “Hosting a game in Chicago is great for recruiting while also giving the largest base of Illinois graduates access to Fighting Illini football.”
Illinois and Northwestern were scheduled to face off at Soldier Field in 2017 and 2019.
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