After ESPN's College GameDay announced it would broadcast live from Evanston for the Northwestern-Ohio State game, crowds of thousands of people are expected to flood the city Saturday.
The Wildcats' game against the Buckeyes, 7 p.m. at Ryan Field, is sold out as of Wednesday, according to the city. With a capacity for well over 40,000 fans, Ryan Field will be the center of attention, although city officials are advising downtown businesses to prepare for big crowds, too.
Representatives from the Evanston police and fire departments, the Wilmette police department and Northwestern University police department as well as staff from Northwestern facilities, football operations, marketing communications, ticketing, band, ambulance services and concessions met Tuesday to plan for the game.
On Wednesday, seven semi-trucks arrived to begin setting up for the broadcast at Lakeside Field on the university's campus. Meanwhile, the Wildcat Marching Band practiced its moves a few blocks away at the old Kendall College site. Many students wore t-shirts saying "Purple Pride."
Both Northwestern University and Evanston Township High School are celebrating their homecomings this weekend. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sheridan Road will shut down from Lincoln to Clark streets for the university's homecoming parade from 6 to 7 p.m. Later that same day, the ETHS Wildkits play against Glenbrook South. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
While the football game doesn't start until 7:12 p.m. on Saturday, the parking lots will open at 3 p.m., and a free campus/stadium shuttle begins running at that time.
Over at the high school, students will attend the homecoming dance from 7 to 10 p.m. in the fieldhouse. Evanston and Northwestern police will increase their presence during both, according to city officials.
Evanston's 311 call center will remain open for one hour after the game, and residents and businesses are encouraged to report concerns to 311 or emergencies to 911.