Northwestern University

Northwestern University's plan for new football stadium suffers a setback

Oct. 12, 2023
The city of Evanston's Land Use Commission has rejected a part of the proposal that would allow the university to host up to 6 concerts a year at the new facility.

The Evanston, Illinois, Land Use Commission has recommended approval of an approval to rebuild Northwestern University’s football stadium but has rejected a proposal for zoning changes that would allow the facility to host events such as concerts.

The Evanston Roundtable reports that the commission voted 7 to 2 to oppose a zoning amendment that would allow the university to host up to six concerts a year at the rebuilt Ryan Field.

Commissioners who opposed the concerts provision said the university's proposal has inadequately addressed plans for mitigating traffic, parking and noise impacts from concerts.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso, Northwestern’s director of media relations, issued a statement after the Land Use Commission's vote:

“While we appreciate the commission’s support of the new stadium, we are disappointed in the commission’s non-binding recommendation of the complete project without concert. However, we remain encouraged by the support of thousands of residents who support this project, and we are hopeful the City Council will vote to approve the new stadium in its entirety.”

David DeCarlo of the Most Livable City Association said he was encouraged the commissioners saw the concerts amendment as “a radical proposal to change the character not just of the surrounding community, but of Evanston as a whole.” 

The $800 million redevelopment plan put forth last year by Northwestern calls for demolishing the 96-year-old Ryan Field, which has a capacity of 47,000, and replacing it with a 35,000-seat facility.

Before the commission's vote, university community liaison Dave Davis told the panel that the requested concerts are integral to rebuilding the stadium.

“The stadium project that we propose is inextricably linked to the approval of a text amendment that permits a limited number of concerts,” Davis said. “This project cannot and will not move forward without this approval.”

The Land Use Commission’s recommendation is considered advisory; final authority on the matter rests with the City Council. It’s unclear how quickly the Ryan Field project will be on the council agenda.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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