As the Land Use Commission wrapped up its 10th hour of hearings on Ryan Field Wednesday night, Chair Matt Rodgers summed up the group’s major concerns about Northwestern University’s stadium project.

At the third hearing on Oct. 11, Rodgers said, the university should expect lots of questions from commissioners, with “noise and traffic” their two major issues.

Much of the evening Wednesday was devoted to formal presentations from stadium opponents.

One, Steve Harper of 640 Gregory Ave. in Wilmette, came equipped with dozens of posterboards to illustrate his points, including a map colored to show what he said would be noise levels around the stadium created by concerts.

“Noise louder than a garbage disposal” would reach some homes on Eastwood Avenue, Harper said.

Bill James, the head of the Camiros planning consulting firm, testifying for the Most Livable City Association, predicted that the university’s proposal for new events at the stadium would lead to an increase in annual attendance from 263,000 to 1,334,000 people.

That, he said, could lead to pressure to redevelop the area with multifamily housing.

Andrew Lines.

Andrew Lines, an appraiser with Cohn Reznick, also testifying for the Most Livable City Association, said the best comparative situation he had found to Ryan Field was the Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, New York.

That professional tennis venue, build in 1923, had been vacant for 17 years before becoming a venue for up to 30 concerts a year starting in 2013.

He said his study indicates that homes within two blocks of the stadium now are selling on average for 2.85% less than homes at a greater distance.

And he claimed noise and traffic were the factors to blame for that price discrepancy.

A rendering of the proposed Ryan Field stadium looking southeast from Ashland Avenue. Credit: Northwestern University

During the first two hours of the meeting, devoted to brief remarks from people who had not requested continuances to make formal presentations against the project, about 25 people spoke — split roughly two to one against the university’s plans.

Neil Gambow.

Neil Gambow, of 927 Michigan Ave., chair of the Mayor’s Employer Advisory Council, said job opportunities created by the new stadium would represent a real opportunity for young people to launch good careers without going to college.

Robert Orenstein, of 260 Eastwood Ave., said the energy of Big Ten football games is exciting and that concerts represented a new opportunity that should be embraced.

“I don’t think it’s a problem,” he added.

James Froberg.

James Froberg, of 1531 Lincoln St., a graduate of NU’s Kellogg School of Management, said that unlike Northwestern, “I’m an Evanston taxpayer,” and that he’s opposed to concerts and the parking variations requested for the stadium.

Timothy Guimond, of 2750 Broadway Ave., a retired economist, said the economic impacts NU claims for the stadium project are exaggerated, and that over 100 peer-reviewed studies indicate such developments have only “small positive to small negative impacts.”

Karl Hopman

Karl Hopman, of 311 Driftwood Lane in Wilmette, dramatized his opposition by displaying what he said were 45 emails he’d sent requesting details about the project without getting what he said was any meaningful response.

“Northwestern is purposely hiding data about the sound study,” Hopman claimed.

And Meredith DeCarlo, of 1404 Lincoln St., said members of her family have lived in Evanston since before Ryan Field was built, and that she would never have bought her house if she’d imagined the stadium would become a concert venue.

“I live with dread that we will have to move,” she added.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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