It remains somewhat unclear what will happen with the proposed stadium, and there’s a lot more to it than obtaining a building permit.
You can review all of Northwestern submissions to the City on the Evanston website:
There are two sections. One about their application for a Planned Development and another section about their application for zoning changes.
The application for a Planned Development seeks approval for the stadium itself. There are a variety of variances that are needed. I think the Planned Development will be approved with relatively little controversy. Most neighbors are OK with a new stadium. I personally think it looks a bit “large” for the site, but that doesn’t seem to be a significant concern among most neighbor groups.
The much bigger issue is the application for zoning changes. It’s not at all clear that Northwestern will get everything it wants. Currently, the zoning code doesn’t permit concerts other than specifically for the university. In other words, they can’t rent out the existing Ryan Field for a concert. Under the proposed changes to the zoning code, Northwestern would be permitted to host up to 10 full-capacity concerts every year. This is the major issue. Many neighbors are concerned about both increased congestion and noise from concerts.
It’s not clear whether Northwestern may already have enough votes secured on the City Council. At least two council members have publicly indicated reservations about the zoning changes.
All of the above issues must first be presented to the Land Use Commission. Those hearings could take months. The LUC votes, but it’s only advisory. Then the issue goes to a committee of the City Council. That could take a few weeks. And then it goes to the full City Council. That will take at least 2 weeks.
So if everything goes smoothly, they could have approval by about mid fall.
Oh, they also want a change to the liquor license to permit alcohol sales throughout the stadium. There’s some objection to that, but I suspect that will be approved. (The mayor basically decides that issue, as I understand, and I don’t see him turning down the tax revenue.)
I personally think NU will go forward even without all of the requested zoning changes, but they contend that they need 10 concerts a year to make the project economically viable. Some have pointed out that doesn’t seem to be the case if the Ryans are footing the bill.