Northwestern University

Northwestern University gets OK to rebuild stadium, stage concerts

Nov. 21, 2023
The Evanston, Illinois, city council has approved an $800 million plan for Ryan Field.

Northwestern University will be allowed to rebuild its nearly 100-year-old football stadium and stage six full-capacity concerts a year there, as well as other smaller events.

The Evanston Review reports that the Evanston, Illinois, City Council voted 6 to 2 to permit the university to carry out an $800 million rebuild rebuild of Ryan Field.

In a 5-4 vote, the council approved a zoning change to allow the concerts, an issue that had generated opposition among residents near the stadium.

Proponents of the concert provision argued that the events would bring in much needed tourism dollars to the city.

Those against the stadium overhaul have been most opposed to the concerts, saying headaches from traffic, noise and parking issues along with the strain concerts would put on city services aren’t worth the benefits.

Evanston and Northwestern have agreed to a 15-year expanded benefits agreement, starting next year, that will see annual payments of $3 million to a Good Neighbor Fund.

The agreement also promises annual payments of $500,000 to a local workforce development program, another $500,000 annually toward racial equity programming, $1 million a year to various local nonprofit organizations, $2 million in financial aid for Evanston students to attend Northwestern per year and a yearly $250,000 to revitalize the city’s downtown.

In a statement after the City Council vote, Dave Davis, Northwestern’s senior executive director of Neighborhood and Community Relations, said the university was elated with the decision. He added, "We remain deeply committed to being sensitive and responsive to the concerns raised throughout this process.”

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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