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 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.