Northwestern University pushes $800M Ryan Field project, despite Evanston community pushback - Chicago Sun-Times

First by way of full disclosure, I have already expressed my opinion regarding college football. IMHO, building a new stadium to celebrate a game that includes the risk of debilitating brain injury is immoral. Hopefully at some point in the future the stadium will be primarily used for concerts and other gatherings rather than a blood sport.

NIMBY is a difficult topic in the best of circumstances. I’m certain that sharing a residential neighborhood with a college football stadium is challenging. BUT that stadium has been part of the neighborhood longer than any of the current residents have lived there. Those who purchased their homes in that neighborhood knew what they were signing up for. Whatever impact the stadium has on property values is already baked in. The residents also lost whatever small leverage they may have had when the city agreed to allow NU to host night games.

The economic benefits of attracting 35K people to an event are significant both for those employed to host the event as well as most of the surrounding businesses. And a mature economic eco system fed by fall stadium events is already there and can only benefit from increased frequency of those events.

Hard to imagine that any third party evaluation of the economic impacts of a new stadium are going to come up with much new information that isn’t already well known.

So this will come down to the horse trading of how much NU is going to be willing to pay in one form or another to get the stadium built. The neighborhood is going to lose this one. The best they can hope for is to delay the project long enough that something else out of their control happens to derail the project plans.

We “studied” this issue in Econ in college way back in the mid 70’s when Evanston said no the Bears playing there. Essentially rather than saying no , there should have been a negotiation to see if there was a price that could be agreed upon by NU/ Bears and the locals to buy them off for the downside of crowds coming in for Bears home games Maybe the asking price would have been too high, but should have been explored.

Evanston can do a lot more than delay if they really wanted to ; they can make just about anything illegal ( as they did when I was in college , like no more than 3 un-relateds sharing a dwelling). Local municipalities have a lot of power if they really want to exercise it. Lots of potential construction jobs would be lost, butvEvanston may not care


This is a rare circumstance I am cheering for Evanston to win over Northwestern.

This stadium rebuild seems like a vanity play as the last hurrah of Pat Ryan before he dies.

I think spectator sports are dying and a new stadium is just flushing money down the drain. There is nothing that is going to fill Dyche stadium vs. lesser and non-conference opponents even if we slice capacity in half. The problem with reducing capacity is that ticket prices will go up proportionally and the long-time season ticket holders will be asked to justify higher prices for the same mostly Meh product.

I think you will see a changing of the guard as long-term season ticket holders will drop their tickets if there are PSLs along with generally much higher prices. I’m not sure there are people clamoring to pay the big $ and replace us in the seats otherwise they would already have season tickets.

We will not attend home games away from Evanston and after missing a couple of seasons in person due to the rebuild it will be easier to not come back. My nephew’s wedding luckily falls on the Wrigley weekend otherwise I would’ve had a difficult decision to make. Maureen and I both agree missing a home game as a divorceable offense!

I agree that this will likely be settled through negotiation. The “third party” economic study is just a fig leaf for the mayor and the city council to confirm that the economic benefits outweigh the “quality of life” costs to the neighborhood.

Thing is that from a zoning perspective, NU likely has the ability “by right” to build a new stadium on the site the of existing stadium. But the existing zoning likely also restricts the use of that stadium to NU activities.

As I recall from previous posts, the economic model of this new structure depends on being able to host “third party” events there too.

BTW, I was part of the law suit contesting the right of the City of Evanston to define what a “family” was. It was Amazingrace and Reba Place that were both caught up in the “3 unrelated person” zoning rule. The ACLU were defending both of us. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court. That icon of individual rights, Justice Douglas, wrote the majority opinion supporting the right of cities to write their zoning rules however they wanted as long as they didn’t reflect discrimination by race, color, or creed. We did get interviewed on national TV by Walter Cronkite though. That was cool. Walter was my hero. After he retired, he spoke at NU. I was the sound guy who got to wire him up on stage. I mentioned that we had met before regarding a zoning case in Evanston. He remembered the whole thing and shared his opinion that it was a bad decision that tarnished an otherwise outstanding career.