In a joint announcement today with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, two prominent Midwestern college football teams announced their plans to play a neutral-site series in 2020 and 2021. Following a few weeks of speculation and some comments from notable stakeholders such as Packers president Mark Murphy and Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, the Wisconsin Badgers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish officially announced their plans to play a two-game series, with one game at each of the two oldest stadiums in the NFL.
From a business perspective, this plan makes great sense. Both schools have massive alumni bases in the Chicago area, making Soldier Field a sure sellout. Furthermore, the recent success of the Wisconsin-LSU game last season (a 16-14 Badgers win) effectively ensured that the Badgers would investigate playing another game at Lambeau in the future.
In a bit of a surprise, the college contests will not take place on the first week of each respective season to minimize conflicts with NFL games. Instead, the Lambeau Field game is scheduled for October 3, 2020 and the contest at Soldier Field taking place on September 25, 2021.
Wisconsin has also played at Soldier Field recently, defeating Northern Illinois 49-7 in 2011.
Here are a selection of a few comments from Packers president Mark Murphy:
Lambeau Field, obviously, we’re really honored to host the first game between these two schools since 1964. Obviously, Lambeau is named after Curly Lambeau, who was a football player, albeit a short career, at Notre Dame ... Last year was kind of the first time we got into hosting college football games ... (we) thought that was very successful. That was the first college game we’d hosted at Lambeau Field since 1983.
We’re really excited. I think it’s going to be great for the state of Wisconsin. Looking ahead to 2020, it’s going to be a great time for sports fans in the state of Wisconsin ... Whistling Straits will be hosting the Ryder Cup the week before the Wisconsin-Notre Dame game. With the development around the stadium, particularly the Titletown District, that’s something that will be up and running by 2020.