Fans pack Wrigley for college football match-up

November 20, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The Friendly Confines has had its share of controversies: Billy goats and Bartman. Now, add to that the forbidden end zone.

But despite safety concerns prompting a last-minute change for all offensive plays, spectators had a good time and enjoyed the venue.

Saturday was the first time in 40 years that the Friendly Confines hosted a football game. Single end-zone or not, when it was all said and done, the Northwestern vs. Illinois game was a resounding success -- at least by the fans' standards.

"I'm a lifelong Cubs fan and an Illinois alum. To see my team play here and play well, it was a great night," said Jason Turner.

"We had a great time. Turnout was spectacular, and we made history," said Wildcats fan Cindy Cacciatore-Bickel.

Saturday, approximately 41,000 spectators packed the stadium, which had been decked out in purple all week.

"I've never been here before. So, it's kind of ironic that the first time I'm here it's for a football game and not baseball. It's pretty amazing!" said Ganesh Thippeswamy, a Wildcats fan.

The hard-core fans came out early hoping to be part of ESPN's College Football GameDay live broadcast Saturday morning from across the street. Later, Northwestern fans also gathered to greet their team at the corner of Sheffield and Addison, which for Saturday, became known as Wildcat Way.

"We camped out last night. We pitched a tent over there. We've been up since 5 a.m.," said Wildcats fan Trent Peters.

"This is a totally different experience than I've ever had. Ryan Field is great, but here we really feel like Chicago's Big Ten team," Amy Anichini said.

And while Wildcat purple certainly dominated Saturday's self-proclaimed Wrigleyville Classic, the Fighting Illini did not allow themselves to be intimidated.

Some fans chose to be the ultimate diplomats, happy to cheer for both teams.

"I'm an Illini alum, but I have season tickets to the Wildcats with my friends. A little bit of confusion today, but I'll be a winner, no matter what," said Wildcat and Illini fan Marty Regan.

In the end, regardless of the outcome, fans on both sides told ABC7 Chicago they'd had a great time and would like to see the matchup repeated again next year.

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