Football to play its first event at U.S. Cellular Field

By Scott Nicol

CHICAGO | Newly named Guaranteed Rate Field’s first event will not be a Chicago White Sox baseball game.

Instead, NIU will host the first event: A Mid-American Conference rivalry game Nov. 9 against the University of Toledo Rockets.

The game will be a nationally televised event at Guaranteed Rate Field, known as U.S. Cellular Field until Nov. 1, in what is being called the “Huskie Chi-Town Showdown,” according to a Feb. 17 press release by NIU Athletics.

Manny Sanchez, NIU Alumni Board Chairman and Board Member Jeff Yordon, both class of 1970, of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, originally reached out to NIU Athletic Director Sean T. Frazier and the idea grew from there, said John Cheney, NIU senior associate athletic director of facilities and event operations.

“The Board [of Trustees] wanted to increase the number of events [at Guaranteed Rate Field], or at least having specialty events there rather than only White Sox games,” Cheney said. “It was a natural fit with their interest in NIU to at least reach out and see if that is something [NIU] would be interested in.”

NIU is one of the most successful Division I football subdivision teams in the country with an NCAA record six-straight MAC West titles and championship game appearances.

Hosting an event of this magnitude will be a fun experience for those 145,000 NIU alumni located in the Chicago area who might not be able to come to DeKalb for a Wednesday matchup otherwise, Cheney said.

Students will receive one free ticket upon their request. Tickets must be requested and picked up by Nov. 7 at the Convocation Center.

Guest tickets will be limited with only 500 available at $22 each and can be purchased at the Convocation Center Ticket Office. Student buses will be provided based on availability, according to NIU athletics.