To the Evanston Community: Revised Ryan Field Proposal Based on Feedback
Dear members of the Evanston community,
As you know, thanks to a remarkably generous gift from the Ryan Family, we have been embarking on a journey to remake and rebuild Ryan Field in a way that will allow us to transform an aging, deteriorating stadium into a community asset. The new stadium has never been solely about Northwestern football; its role as an economic and social engine goes well beyond that. Our goal has always been to host community-oriented events such as winter festivals, holiday celebrations, family movie nights, and youth sports events, as well as additional student and community programming to take full advantage of the plazas and new park being built.
Over the past year, we have held more than 100 meetings and forums and had the opportunity to listen and learn to balance the aspirations for how people would like to see the stadium maximized, with those who have expressed reservations or concerns. We know that as a key part of this community, we need to listen to our neighbors across the entire city of Evanston.
Moving Forward Together
As we prepare for the upcoming meeting of the Land Use Commission, we are moving forward in a way that we believe realizes the benefits of the stadium redevelopment, while addressing the concerns that we have heard. Based on that feedback, Northwestern is willing to modify its zoning application to significantly reduce the number of events hosted at the stadium annually while still ensuring financial viability for the project to move forward. Specifically:
- Northwestern is willing to reduce the fixed number of concerts in the ordinance to six per year to balance the need to realistically operate the venue while addressing the concerns of neighbors.
- Northwestern is willing to modify the original text amendment request that allowed for an unlimited number of 10,000-person University events at Ryan Field. We are willing to no longer ask for that change.
- While many residents were hoping to utilize the stadium throughout the year, Northwestern is willing to limit community-based activities at the stadium and plazas to 60 days per year with programs designed in collaboration with our neighbors such as holiday celebrations and fall and winter festivals as mentioned above.
An Opportunity to Increase Equity for All of Evanston
We have made having a transformational impact on Evanston a centerpiece to the rebuild project. As we have previously shared, we are committed to a target of 35% of all subcontracted spending — more than $208 million — for local, minority- and women-owned businesses, with priority given to businesses and individuals located in Evanston. Our construction manager, Turner-Walsh, is focusing on workforce training and planning to align with Northwestern’s commitments to underrepresented communities — providing significant opportunities for Evanstonians in low-skill jobs to move into good paying, high skill careers. Additionally, we are excited to announce additional financial benefits tied to the Ryan Field redevelopment:
- An additional $10 million commitment from the Ryan Family will enable the University to create an Evanston workforce technology upskilling program. This initiative will equip under-employed community residents with the necessary technology skills and resources to thrive in the modern workforce and achieve economic mobility. While this program will help support workforce opportunities related to the stadium, it will be endowed in a way that supports Evanston residents straddling future generations.
- The University will guarantee a minimum of $2 million in annual tax and fee revenue to the City of Evanston tied to events at the new stadium. This number has the potential to increase depending on the number of events being held each year.
- While Northwestern works closely with local schools today, the increased use of the stadium gives us an opportunity to think creatively about how to do more. The University is committing to applying a ticket surcharge to concerts at Ryan Field that will generate an additional $500,000 in revenue annually to support Evanston Public Schools.
- An additional $250,000 annually to support a signature Evanston/Northwestern event that will benefit our entire community as directed by city leadership.
- While these benefits are centered on the renovation and use of the stadium itself, we know the University’s relationship with Evanston goes beyond this specific project. As such, we remain in active discussions with the leadership of the city of Evanston on other concrete ways we can support the city. We look forward to sharing additional information in the weeks to come.
It has always been our intention to provide a project that can be enjoyed by all of us well into the future. We look forward to working with you to see Evanston take advantage of this opportunity today and for generations to come.