Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern hosts groundbreaking ceremony at Ryan Field construction site

Lucas Kim/The Daily Northwestern
Members of the Ryan family pose at the Ryan Field groundbreaking ceremony Monday.

Northwestern formally broke ground at the construction site of the new Ryan Field, set to open for the 2026 season, in a ceremony Monday morning.

With University officials, city councilmembers, benefactors and many others in attendance, the ceremony celebrated the project’s impacts on both the NU and Evanston communities.

Mayor Daniel Biss addressed the crowd, commending the new stadium’s potential to “improve the lives of all community members” and emphasizing the importance of cooperation between the city and NU.

“I believe to my core that the city of Evanston and Northwestern University will not be our best selves unless we are working closely together,” Biss said.

Last November, Biss served as the tie breaking vote for two controversial City Council ordinances that made the rebuild possible. In his speech, Biss said his votes were worth the risk “in the name of partnership” between the city and the University.

According to NU’s senior executive director of neighborhood and community relations Dave Davis, much of the project will encompass helping out local businesses and citizens through investing into the community. 

Davis said over $208 million is projected to be invested into local, minority and women-owned businesses with the stadium expected to produce upwards of $659 million in economic impact to the city of Evanston.

“It’s about bringing people together,” Davis said. “It’s about improving the quality of life for everyone here in Evanston. That’s what this football stadium has always been about.”

At the ceremony, Davis recognized local community groups including Field of Opportunities and Evanston Own It, both of which he said were instrumental in getting the project off the ground.

University President Michael Schill made the ceremony’s opening remarks, applauding the stadium’s namesake — Patrick Ryan (Kellogg ’59), Shirley Ryan (Weinberg ’61) and the rest of the Ryan family — for backing the project financially, which allowed it to be 100 percent privately funded.

“From athletics to research, the Ryan family has supported Northwestern in ways that will resonate with our community for generations and generations to come,” Schill said. 

Also among the crowd were football student athletes as well as several of NU’s head coaches, whom Athletic Director Derrick Gragg mentioned in his remarks. Gragg recognized the coaches “for making Wildcats athletics what it is today” and asked those in attendance to stand up.

All of NU’s coaches and athletes collectively earned two national championship appearances, a record seven Big Ten championships, seven coach of the year honors and a graduation success rate of 98 percent. The football team, who will temporarily play along the lakefront at Martin Stadium, also earned a bowl victory for the first time since 2020.

“(The stadium) is going to be the crown jewel of our community,” Gragg said. “But most importantly, it’s also going to be the home of our football student athletes, who had one of the biggest turnarounds in this century in football.”

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