Northwestern officials explain specifics of Ryan Field rebuild in 7th Ward meeting


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Ryan Field. Northwestern discussed the rebuilding process of Ryan Field with Evanston residents Wednesday

Julian Andreone, Reporter

Northwestern officials discussed developments on the Ryan Field rebuild at a Wednesday 7th Ward meeting. 

The University announced official plans to construct a new football stadium on Sept. 28. The school announced that the renovated stadium will potentially serve as a venue for non-football related entertainment like concerts. However, some residents have raised concerns that the new stadium will bring unnecessary traffic, noise and commotion to the area.

NU Vice President for Operations Luke Figora said at a Wednesday Faculty Senate meeting that the project will cost around $800 million — That funding, Figora said, will be financed entirely by NU, Pat Ryan (Kellogg ’59) and Shirley Ryan (Weinberg ’61) and other private donors. According to Figora, no taxpayer funding will be used to build or maintain the new Ryan Field.

Figora said consulting firm Tripp Umbach recently conducted an economic impact study that found the proposed project will generate more than $600 million in indirect economic impact for Evanston. 

The study also found that the project will generate 2,900 new jobs and more than $10 million in direct fees to Evanston throughout the construction period. 

Dave Davis, NU’s senior executive director of neighborhood and community relations, said family-friendly activities will be held at the new Ryan Field to promote community engagement.

“This will be an asset to the entire Evanston community, including our residents, our civic and nonprofit groups, as well as our business owners,” Davis said. “We imagine that our business owners from downtown Evanston all the way down to Howard Street will be able to ultimately benefit from this new project.”

Project leaders addressed several community concerns about light disturbances, lack of parking and increased traffic and noise. 

Senior Project Manager Steven Himes said Ryan Field is not currently compliant with National College Athletic Association stadium standards. He said the project is focused on improving accessibility, as it is not currently compliant with the American with Disabilities Act, among other concerns.

The project will also reduce capacity at the field, though some residents said they expect the overall number of fans to increase with the remodel. 

“A lot of the concerns we have heard revolve around traffic and parking issues in the neighborhood,” Himes said. 

Himes said NU has hired a traffic engineering firm to deal with congestion once the stadium opens. He said the project team is currently examining the state of traffic in Evanston before developing a traffic management plan for high-capacity events.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) told The Daily that members of the Evanston community have expressed mixed reactions to the Ryan Field rebuild project, but the majority have been critical of NU’s plan.

“The idea that there might be full capacity concerts in the stadium, that is going to bring the parking, the traffic, the noise,” Revelle said. “And (it will bring) potentially people from far away who may not be particularly careful about the residential neighborhood … they are just a little more casual about trash and noise.”

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Twitter: @JulianAndreone

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