Aug. 7, 2012
By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Walter Payton. Dick Butkus. Mike Ditka.
And, coming next season ... Steve Sarkisian.
Washington finalized on Thursday an agreement with Illinois to play their 2013 game at Soldier Field in Chicago, home to the NFL's Bears, soccer's 1994 World Cup and big events for the last century.
"I am already excited for the opportunity to showcase our program in a city and stadium as historic as Chicago and Soldier Field," UW Director of Athletics Scott Woodward said. "We are honored to play in such a revered stadium and memorial to American soldiers. I would like to thank Mike Thomas, my colleague at Illinois, plus the City of Chicago for making this unique game possible.
"Coach Sarkisian continues to work tirelessly to instill a determined, physical and play-fast mentality in our Huskies -- one that we believe will play well on Walter Payton's old home field."
The Huskies game in the nation's third-largest city is set for Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. It will be the Dawgs' first time inside the 88-year-old stadium and former romping ground for Payton, the late Hall of Fame running back and former NFL record holder for career rushing yards.
The return game will be Illinois' visit to renovated Husky Stadium on Sept. 13, 2014.
The opening contest in this home-and-home series had initially been scheduled for Illinois' campus downstate in Champaign. But Thomas recently reiterated the Fighting Illini's desire to play in Chicago every other year.
And Washington jumped at the chance to make a splash on Lake Michigan, home to the "Monsters of the Midway."
Soldier Field, which has hosted four NFC championships and has a natural-grass playing surface, was completely rebuilt a decade ago at a cost of $632 million. It re-opened in 2003.
This will be Washington's second-ever game in Chicago. Coach Enoch Bagshaw took the Huskies to Amos Alonzo Stagg Field to play at the University of Chicago, then of the Big Ten, on Nov. 23, 1929.
"This will be another fabulous trip for Husky fans, to a world-class city inside Big Ten Country," Woodward said.
"This agreement continues Washington's commitment to play a challenging, national schedule in our pursuit of championships."
The Huskies own a 5-4 edge in the all-time series that began in 1950 in Champaign. The series includes Butkus and third-ranked Illinois winning 17-7 in the 1964 Rose Bowl.
Washington has played on Illinois' campus four times. The last was a Huskies victory there in 1971.
GoHuskies.com has posted a complete list of Washington's future football schedules, including more home-and-home series upcoming with Boise State and Wisconsin.