A city consultant’s report says the costs of having a new Ryan Field in Evanston “pale in comparison to the benefits received.”
The city Friday released the report from Johnson Consulting on the potential economic impact of Northwestern University’s plan to rebuild the nearly century old football stadium.
The executive summary of the study says a new stadium is rarely offered, as Northwestern is proposing, “with virtually no cost to the host community.”
The study projects somewhat lower economic benefits from the stadium and the concerts the school wants to host than did the university’s economic analysis from the Tripp Umbach firm issued last November.
But it concludes that the annual economic impact of the stadium would increase, with the rebuild, from $51.6 million in 2018 to $82.8 million with the addition of six concerts.
It sees the direct tax revenue to the city and state rising from $5.0 million per year to $6.6 million. The city’s share of that revenue, the study says, would rise from $2.3 million to $2.5 million
The Johnson Consulting study says the project can address one of the city’s major weaknesses, “that there is not enough critical mass to attract people to the city.”
A large concert, the study asserts “has almost equal economic value to the market as a football game,” adding that, “It is reasonable for Northwestern to attempt to get some additional demand to cover costs.”
However, the report suggests that more work needs to be done to develop a feasible plan for handling traffic to and from concerts.
It says that while “the choreography required” to accommodate 147 bus trips from the stadium to off-site parking garages during the peak post-concert hour is “possible theoretically,” it “would require extraordinary staffing and marshalling” to implement.
The Land Use Commission is scheduled to have a second hearing on the stadium project on Sept. 27, with a recommendation to the City Council expected at a third meeting Oct. 11.
Update 3:45 p.m.:
At a meeting this afternoon at The Mather to discuss the Ryan Field plans, Ald. Eleanor Revelle, whose 7th Ward includes the stadium property, said she’d just had an opportunity to skim the Johnson Consulting report.
She said, “They did come up with some nice figures of what Evanston could take in in tax revenue if we have concerts.”
But she added that the study indicates the university “will need to come up with a plan” to get people back to their cars after a concert.
Residents at the meeting appeared split — with some claiming the school needs to provide more financial support for the city, while others said the stadium product is sorely needed.
Revelle said she believes the council vote on whether to approve concerts at the new stadium “will be very close.”
In a statement Friday afternoon, David DeCarlo, of the Most Livable City Association, said the report confirms that the school’s “transportation and parking plan is not grounded in reality.”