Posted by Tom Fornelli
Growing up in Chicago, I've been to Wrigley Field many times in my life. Mostly for Cubs games, but I've seen a Chicago Blackhawks game here as well. As amazing as that spectacle was, walking into the stadium and seeing a goalpost, is a bit startling, and when you set your eyes upon the chalked outline of a football field, and see a giant purple "N" in the middle, your immediate reaction is to think you've shown up at the wrong place.
You're not, but honestly, sitting here about an hour before game time, I'm still not convinced I am in the right place.
It just doesn't feel right to me. Maybe it's the fact that only one end zone is technically in play, with the east end zone being so close to the brick wall in right field that both schools and the Big Ten deemed it a safety hazard. Judging by that photo, you can see why.
Still, walking down around on the field, you feel like you're more at an event than at an actual football game. It's more surreal than anything else, particularly when you're sitting in the press box dining room and ESPN analyst Bob Davie just sits down across from you to eat a hot dog. You don't know whether to say hi or to provide color analysis on the way he's eating the hot dog.
So far, the dining room has been the most popular place as fans just started filing in a little while ago, and it's been mostly media inside the stadium since the Gameday crew left. I'm having a hard time figuring out what the media craves more: the access to the game, or the free food that comes with it.
As for the game itself, it seems to be playing second-fiddle to Wrigley Field. Not something all that unexpected considering the history of the Friendly Confines -- emphasis on the Confines this weekend. I can only wonder if that will change once Illinois and Northwestern finally kick off.