Updated zoning request for Rebuild Ryan Field includes commitment to Memorandum of Understanding


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Ryan Field. Evanston’s Land Use Commission rejected NU’s proposal to host six concerts each year at the new Ryan Field but recommended approval of the University’s plan to build the new stadium.

Kate Walter, Assistant City Editor

In an updated zoning request for the Ryan Field rebuild project, Northwestern committed to entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Evanston before the new stadium hosts its first concert to address operational issues outside the domain of zoning. 

“The Applicant has worked closely with the neighborhood and working groups to develop protocols for minimizing the impact on the surrounding residential neighborhood,” the University said in its May request. 

NU submitted its planned development application for the new Ryan Field in addition to revisions to its zoning amendment application earlier this month. Approval from City Council is required to approve changes to the stadium’s current zoning uses to allow alcohol sales and concerts at the new stadium. 

According to NU’s application, the MOU would include measures such as “specific” security, traffic and sustainability plans, frequent updates to a concert traffic management plan outlining street closures and the creation of a new Community Advisory Council. The council will be made up of appointees by the 7th Ward councilmember, Northwestern staff and Evanston staff, and would review traffic and security plans for the new stadium following construction. 

The MOU would also create permit parking for residential streets on concert days for neighborhood residents and institute requirements for the University to reimburse the city for event-day fees. 

Additionally, NU suggested an earlier curfew: 10:15 p.m. compared to the original 11 p.m. 

The University’s proposal for the new stadium to host 10 concerts a year has raised concerns from Evanston residents over noise and increased traffic. 

The revised proposal from last week included data on a study from acoustics engineering firm Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon and Williams measuring the possible noise produced from a concert at the stadium would create noise from 55-75 decibels. The firm offered recommendations to limit the noise produced from concerts, including installing sound monitoring devices and limiting concert dates to specific times. 

The University included results from the Kimley-Horn design firm to produce a Transportation and Parking Management Plan for concerts at the stadium. The firm recommended using on and off site parking, with shuttle services for off-site parking. 

NU also said it will look into coordinating with public transportation services to arrange transportation to and from concerts.

Over the past few months, many Evanston residents have expressed concerns over Rebuild Ryan Field. In April, residents and NU students walked out of the Northwestern University-City Committee after University representatives said they could not comment on the rebuild at that meeting. 

Earlier this month, five community and Northwestern-affiliated groups came together to form the “Northwestern Accountability Alliance.” The coalition called on the University to develop a community benefits agreement before pursuing the city’s approval for the stadium rebuild. 

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Twitter: @katewalter03

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