Chicago is well-known for deep-dish pizza, "da Bears" and Mike Ditka, but nestled in suburban Evanston is a once-hallowed ground in college football. Ryan Field -- named after Patrick G. Ryan, a business executive who has close ties to the university -- originally opened as Dyche Stadium in 1926.
Football's popularity had grown immensely at Northwestern by the early 1920s and William Dyche, who had been a vice president of the school, spearheaded a movement to rid the university of its old, wooden bleachers and construct a proper stadium to seat 45,000 people. During the 1940s and 1950s the Wildcats would average 40,000 purple-wearing fans for each home game, an attendance milestone equaled only from 1961 to 1964 and 1996 to 1998.
With the rabid fanfare surrounding other notable schools in the Big Ten -- and the Wildcats' historic losing streak of 34 games from 1979 to 1982 -- it's not that difficult to lose sight of Northwestern's dominance. The Wildcats won their first Big Ten championship in 1903 and earn three more from 1995 to 2000.
Wrigley Field had been deemed unsuitable for an NFL franchise by the league in 1970, therefore forcing a move by the Bears, who had outgrown their home of a half-century. As an experiment they played their first home game at then Dyche Stadium against the Philadelphia Eagles. It turned out to be one of only six wins that season, still residential neighbors around Dyche Stadium petitioned officials to ban the Bears from moving there permanently. The Bears took refuge in Soldier Field the next season.
Ryan Field was named 2000 Field of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association.