Green light for Ryan Field redevelopment


Green light for Northwestern University Ryan Field project Image: Northwestern University

Northwestern University can push ahead with plans to rebuild Ryan Field stadium after Evanston City Council voted in favor of the redevelopment.

The council also approved the rezoning application that will allow six concerts a year and other community-oriented events at the new venue.

The project’s approval comes after extensive dialogue with community members, reflecting Northwestern’s commitment to understanding and addressing the concerns of Evanston residents.

The 47,130-capacity Ryan Field is a stadium in the Central United States, located in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb North of Chicago.

Near the campus of the Northwestern University, it is primarily used for American football and is the home field of the Northwestern Wildcats of the Big Ten Conference.

Green light for Northwestern University Ryan Field projectImage: Northwestern University

Dave Davis, Northwestern’s senior executive director of Neighborhood and Community Relations, said, “This decision marks a pivotal moment for Northwestern and the city of Evanston.

“We’re embarking on a journey that promises not just a state-of-the-art stadium, but also a beacon of cultural and economic vitality. This project is a testament to our shared vision of progress and prosperity.”

Earlier this year, Northwestern University selected a partnership between Turner Construction and Walsh Construction (Turner-Walsh) as its construction manager for the redevelopment of Ryan Field.

Green light for Northwestern University Ryan Field projectImage: Northwestern University

When complete, the new stadium will create a best-in-the-nation football experience for fans, student-athletes and the community, the university said.

Proposed design highlights include:

  • A more intimate setting: Significantly smaller crowds — designed for a maximum capacity of 35,000, more than 12,000 fewer than the current Ryan Field, with a state-of-the-art canopy designed to focus noise and light on the field
  • New community assets: The new Ryan Field is being developed as a modern stadium campus with beautiful plazas, an exceptional new community park as well as other publicly accessible greenspaces for residents to enjoy year-round community activities
  • Accessibility: The new stadium will apply Universal Design standards and will set a new standard for accessibility and inclusivity, making it among the most accessible stadiums in the country
  • Sustainability: The project is designed to achieve Gold LEED certification.

The multi-year stadium rebuild stems from a transformative gift to Northwestern from the Ryan Family to accelerate breakthroughs in biomedical, economic and business research and help redevelop and modernize Northwestern’s iconic football stadium, improving upon deficiencies in the old stadium and bringing it into the 21st century.

The new stadium is anticipated to be a catalyst for local economic growth, bringing new jobs, boosting local businesses and creating a vibrant cultural hub in Evanston.

The city council decision was the product of hundreds of hours of meetings and collaboration between Northwestern and stakeholders across the city of Evanston, Davis said.

“While we are elated with the Council’s decision, we remain deeply committed to being sensitive and responsive to the concerns raised throughout this process,” Davis said. “We recognize the emotional depth of this issue and extend our sincere gratitude to everyone who shared their perspectives.

“This project has been, and always will be, about more than just a stadium. It’s about enriching our community and creating a legacy of unity and progress. Now, as we move forward, our focus is on healing, uniting and working collaboratively toward the betterment of our beloved Evanston community.”

Northwestern will announce next steps and a timeline at a later date.

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