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To the Northwestern Community: An Update on Our Plans for Ryan Field

Dear Northwestern community,

Earlier today, we announced that Northwestern is willing to modify its zoning proposal to the City of Evanston that outlines our plans for a new, state-of-the-art Ryan Field. The redevelopment of Ryan Field will be reviewed by the Land Use Commission next week. The potential modifications are a result of our team’s direct and ongoing engagement with the broader community about what the new Ryan Field should be. Specifically, we are willing to reduce the maximum number of concerts to six per year and make additional changes to the proposed usage and capacity of the plazas. While we believe the potential changes represent meaningful accommodations for our neighbors, we do not believe the community aspects and economic benefits of the new stadium will be impacted. You can read the letter I shared with the Evanston community here.

We have arrived at this pivotal point in the Ryan Field rebuild project thanks to a remarkably generous gift from the Ryan Family. Their gift, along with the work of many in our community, will help us remake and rebuild Ryan Field, transforming an aging, deteriorating stadium into a community asset. The Ryan family’s gift was the largest in Northwestern history, including $145 million in new academic funding. I am pleased to report that these academic gifts are already transforming Northwestern’s work in biomedical research, global health and economics. The new Ryan Research Acceleration program will award more than $4 million in faculty grants this fall alone. In the coming weeks, we will be announcing funding for an additional new academic program from this gift as well.

I have been asked if recent events have changed our commitment to the Ryan Field project. As you know, and as I have shown through my actions, we are deeply committed to supporting our student-athletes and ensuring their well-being, now and in the future. As I have stated repeatedly, hazing has no place at Northwestern, and I am confident the independent review we have asked former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch to conduct will help us determine how best to ensure our athletics program is accountable and reflects the University’s mission and values as a leading academic institution.

The redevelopment of Ryan Field is a generational decision that is tied directly to our commitment as a founding member of the Big Ten, and our commitment to our student-athletes. The rapidly decaying condition of Ryan Field will require a major investment by the University in any case. The Ryan family’s generosity enables us to leverage private philanthropy to build a world-class athletic facility for our varsity sports that will be a year-round asset to the Northwestern and Evanston communities.

It is important to note that Northwestern would have to make a similar financial investment to restore the current, crumbling Ryan Field to an adequate level to play seven football games per year as it will to create the new Ryan Field.

Moving forward with the Ryan Field project is the right thing for Northwestern and the residents of Evanston. It will bring more than $200 million of business opportunities to minority- and women-owned businesses and, as we are announcing in our update to the City, the Ryan Family also has committed an additional $10 million to provide a permanent technology-focused workforce upskilling program to help underemployed Evanston residents move into better-paying careers.

I recognize that we are facing significant challenges that go beyond the new stadium. Those challenges require extraordinary care, time and healing. I firmly believe this rebuild will help us create an opportunity to build toward a positive and exciting future where we do what we do best at Northwestern — bring people together and positively impact communities.