Residents at a 7th Ward meeting Wednesday night gave mixed reviews to Northwestern University’s plan create a new, smaller Ryan Field.

Most residents who asked questions live during the online meeting voiced concerns about the school’s goal of hosting some large music concerts at the stadium each year to help cover the cost of the project.

Eric Herman.

Eric Herman said he’s an NU alum and supports improving the stadium.

“I’ve got nothing against rock concerts, but I know what kind of condition I was in after leaving some of those concerts, and I don’t want thousands of me in that condition roaming my neighborhood,” Herman said.

Dave Davis, senior executive director of Neighborhood and Community Relations for the university, said the school hasn’t decided yet what kind of concerts and how many it hopes to host.

He said the school plans to host a separate meeting about the concert plans, “so we can clear up any misconceptions,” once those plans are developed.

In the online chat for the event, commenters supporting the stadium project outnumbered those opposed.

Chris LaRosa said the plans showed an “extremely thoughtful approach to solving current problems of the stadium and addressing broader community interests.”

E. J. Schultz said, “I live close to the stadium and support this project. I think it would be a great addition to the neighborhood.”

And Dave Young said, “As a close neighbor with young children, we fully support the new stadium project.”

“This has the potential to be a massive win for Evanston,” he added.

But David DeCarlo said, “The negative impact on residential neighbors of concerts is categorically different than the college football games that we expected when we moved here.”

University officials, in their presentation of the plans, focused not just on improvements to the experience for football fans, but on an array of possible additional uses for the stadium — ranging from seasonal festivals and small scale music and theater events on the stadium grounds to a possible “neighborhood sleep over” inside the stadium itself.

The school has pledged to build the new stadium completely with private funding and claims the construction project will generate $10 million in direct fees to the city as well as creating 2,900 new jobs during construction.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said she’s planning another meeting about the stadium project on Thursday, Nov. 3.

Davis said the school anticipates submitting its application for city approval of the project in late November or early December.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Northwestern University is asking to invest in building a state-of-the-art stadium WITH ZERO TAX DOLLARS, that will be smaller, lower and built to keep light and sound inside the venue with lots of green space around it where now a cement hulk with fenced in asphalt parking lots exists. Of course being Evanston – let’s oppose this. It is beyond ridiculous. When are the people that live in Evanston going to realize that they live in a Big Ten university town that hundreds of other communities would love to have? It is a major economic engine and guess what, it is not going anywhere. Instead of worrying about the concerts – that probably you or your kids will actually want to go to – think about having a beautiful facility 365 days a year that will be a great amenity to the community. When I tell people about this project and that there is actually opposition, they are dumbfounded. How about we welcome the fact that this is self-funded (unlike the potential new Bears stadium) and that these events bring in tax dollars to the city? Again, Northwestern was here before any of you and will be here after, so if they want to upgrade their facilities for all of us to enjoy – WONDERFUL.

  2. You said it all Jacquelyn! I live in the neighborhood and know that most people are actually excited about the new stadium! Unfortunately there are many CAVE ( Citizens Against Virtually Everything ) people in Evanston who think in catastrophic terms and always imagine the worst!

  3. Anyone who has been to the stadium knows that it sucks, for a long list of reasons. It is badly in need of demolition.

    However as we start looking at uses fir this far outside the core mission of the university, adding that back to the tax rolls should be a real consideration.

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