Illinois' decision to hold its Chicago coaches caravan reception in downtown Evanston, the backyard of rival Northwestern, was bold at best and contrived and unnecessary at worst.
The decision by World of Beer, a new bar in Evanston, to host the Illinois event could be described as bad business. Especially when a group of Northwestern students -- members of World of Beer's target market -- organized their own "welcome" event for Illinois coaches and fans on May 8.
World of Beer called an audible Tuesday, saying the Illinois event has been cancelled.
From The Daily Northwestern:
Owner Ted Mavrakis said his decision to cancel the rally was influenced by Northwestern students organizing against it on social media.
"I don't want to alienate the community in which we live, so I made the decision," Mavrakis said.
Illinois athletic department spokesman Kent Brown said he did not know why Mavrakis nixed the party, "but it is his right as a bar owner." The May 8 stop will be rescheduled at a yet-to-be-announced venue in Chicago, Brown said.
Although it would have been a fun/awkward scene next week, this is a good move for both sides. The bar doesn't turn off one of its main customer groups, and Illinois avoids an awkward scene of being heckled and mocked at its own coaches' caravan event. Media members rarely cover these types of events, but I bet a TV crew or two would have shown up at World of Beer next week -- and it would have looked bad for Illinois. As of Thursday morning, 285 Northwestern fans had signed up to attend the response organized by the "Wildside" student section.
The Wildside now is encouraging its members to go to World of Beer on Wednesday anyway. That's a win for the bar.
The good news is Illinois can pick one of the thousands of Chicago bars to hold its caravan event. That should have been the plan from the beginning.