So Illinois says it owns the state, and Northwestern claims Chicago. Now the two athletic programs are fighting over … Evanston?
The Fighting Illini Caravan will make an intriguing stop May 8 — at the World of Beer bar in Evanston located about three blocks from NU's campus.
Football coach Tim Beckman and men's and women's basketball coaches John Groce and Matt Bollant will join athletic director Mike Thomas for a two-hour reception with a $25 admission.
The announcement of the event has drawn chuckles from NU officials, all of whom declined comment.
It has drawn a public response, though, from Wildside, the official student section of NU athletics. The group posted this on Facebook: “Let's make sure Northwestern gives them a warm welcome — non-stop singing of the fight song, chanting of Go U-NU, and general support of NU during their entire attempt at speaking. THERE WILL BE FREE APPAREL and OTHER GIVEAWAYS to those who attend!”
As of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, more than 200 NU fans on Facebook said they would show up.
The event also appears to be popular with Illinois fans, given that it already has closed for registration.
Illinois spokesman Kent Brown said that fans should call the Chicago I FUND directly at 312-575-7850 to order tickets and that priority would be given to donors and season ticket holders.
Brown said the school decided to stop in Evanston because it has a large number of fans and alums on the North Shore.
“We certainly anticipated a reaction of some kind to the event in Evanston,” Brown said in a statement. “Anything that heightens the exposure of college athletics in Chicago is fantastic."
Illinois-Northwestern often seems like more of a rivalry for marketing officials than for players and fans.
After Northwestern began calling itself “Chicago's Big Ten Team,” Illinois opted for the slogan “Our State/Our Team.”
Northwestern has a long-term deal with the Cubs to play five football games at Wrigley Field. Illinois will host Washington on Sept. 14 at Soldier Field.
On and on it goes.
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