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updated: 8/7/2012 5:51 PM

Illini to play at Soldier Field in 2013

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  • Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas has agreed to have the Illini play Washington in a college football game at Soldier Field in 2013.

      Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas has agreed to have the Illini play Washington in a college football game at Soldier Field in 2013.
    Associated Press/News-Gazette, John Dixon

Daily Herald News Services

Since he arrived last summer, Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas has made capturing the Chicago market a priority for Illini athletics.

In 2013, fans here will have an opportunity to see the Illini in action without making the trek downstate to Champaign.

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Thomas announced Tuesday that Illinois will play a game against Washington at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sept. 14, 2013.

"This is a great opportunity for our football team to play in one of the most historic football venues in the nation," Thomas said in a statement. "Soldier Field is an incredible location that will allow our fans in the Chicagoland area and from around the state an opportunity to watch the Fighting Illini take on an outstanding Pac-12 opponent in Washington."

While Soldier Field was undergoing renovations, the Chicago Bears played the entire 2002-03 NFL season at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. But the Sept. 14-game marks just the second time Illinois has made the Bears' home its own. The last matchup was a 10-9 Illini loss to Washington State on Sept. 1, 1994.

Illinois did, however, play in Chicago as recently as 2010 in a 48-27 victory over Northwestern at Wrigley Field. Northern Illinois University will play a game at Soldier Field this fall on Sept. 1 when the Huskie host the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Huskies are 0-2 alltime at Soldier Field.

Thomas also announced Tuesday future nonconference games against Miami (Ohio) in 2013, Youngstown State in 2014, Western Illinois and Kent State in 2015 and Western Michigan in 2016.

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