Northwestern is upping its peanut-free efforts.
Catering to a large number of fans who have severe peanut and tree-nut allergies, Northwestern's three non-conference home games this season will be peanut and tree-nut free. Peanuts and tree nuts will not be anywhere in the stadium, and extensive cleaning will be done to ensure Ryan Field is safe for fans with allergies.
This after last year's peanut-free game, which was college football's first.
"We're excited to host our first Peanut Free Day at Ryan Field," head coach Pat Fitzgerald said in the school's release announcing the peanut-free game against Minnesota last season. "Nut allergies affect a sizable segment of the population and those people have to be very conscious of it at all times, in environments outside their control. This special day will give many people that may never have attended a live sporting event the opportunity to experience Chicago's Big Ten Team for the first time. Our entire football family is thrilled to be part of such a great initiative."
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ESPN's Brett McMurphy first reported Northwestern's initiative for 2014 — which includes the Aug. 30 opener against California, the Sep. 6 game against Northern Illinois and the Sep. 20 game against Western Illinois — and said that the 2013 peanut-free game was implemented after comments from a father whose Northwestern-student son felt he'd never attend a Wildcats game due to his severe peanut allergy. After staging the initial peanut-free game in October, Northwestern received a positive response and decided to expand their efforts in 2014.
"The response to Peanut-Free Day at Ryan Field last season was overwhelming," said Northwestern deputy athletic director Mike Polisky in the school's release for this season's program. "We learned of so many families that were able to experience Big Ten football for the first time on that Saturday. This year we're excited to be able to offer tens of thousands of Chicagoland families perhaps their first opportunity to experience college athletics at the highest level across a number of our programs."
In addition to the three games at Ryan Field, Northwestern will also host peanut-and-tree-nut-free games during 10 men's basketball games, six women's basketball games, 18 home volleyball matches and three wrestling meets.