Northwestern University Thursday late afternoon announced that it’s willing to cut the number of concerts it’s seeking to hold at the new Ryan Field from 10 to six per year.

University President Michael Schill, in a statement, also said the school is willing to drop its request for a text amendment that would have permitted an unlimited number of 10,000-person university events at the stadium.

And it is now proposing to limit community-based activities at the stadium and its plazas to 60 days per year.

Schill also announced additional financial incentives to the community for the project, including:

  • A $10 million commitment from the Ryan Family to create an Evanston workforce technology upskilling program.
  • A guarantee of a minimum of $2 million in annual tax and fee revenue to the city tied to events at the new stadium.
  • A ticket surcharge for concerts at the stadium that would generate $500,000 a year to support Evanston public schools, and
  • $250,000 a year to support “a signature Evanston/Northwestern event that will benefit our entire community as directed by city leadership.”

Schill says, “The new stadium has never been solely about Northwestern football; its role as an economic and social engine goes well beyond that.”

The stadium proposal is scheduled to be reviewed by the city’s Land Use Commission next at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

In other Ryan Field developments, the Evanston Chamber of Commerce Thursday urged its members to attend the LUC meeting to support the Ryan Field project, while the Central Street Neighbors Association on Wednesday said it “cannot support the proposals.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. These address the main changes// additions I wanted to see as part of a formal proposal. I’m sure some negotiating will still take place but I’m on board!

    1. Me, too. This can be truly transformational, not only for the City, but for so many residents. Excited about the $10 million dollar workforce development idea.

      1. E Town Fan wrote: “Excited about the $10 million dollar workforce development idea…”

        Except that Evanston already has a plethora of well – established workforce development services, including WIOA (I am a member of the North Cook WIOA team; our office is at the Evanston Public Library. WIOA = “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act”):

        Workforce Development

        “The City of Evanston’s Workforce Development Division aims to support local businesses and develop a diverse skilled workforce by empowering, educating, training and equipping participants with the skills required to obtain sustainable career and advancement opportunities leading to economic prosperity in Evanston…”


        “WIOA is landmark legislation that is designed to strengthen and improve our nation’s public workforce system and help get Americans, including youth and those with significant barriers to employment, into high-quality jobs and careers and help employers hire and retain skilled workers…”

        Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident

  2. Why don’t you just build a slightly less expensive stadium that doesn’t require the concert income to be a viable project? Seems like Ryan Family vanity is going to override common sense and the overall well being of the community. Silly.

    1. Can some body please stop x plain why/where/how this was ever on the table to begin with? How does NU take a record setting gift and turn it into a situation that requires a massive change in zoning, purpose, and sacrifices from the the thousands it will negatively impact in so many ways?

      This story/justification needs to be understood!

  3. There are no concessions here. 6 concerts will become 12 over time and then more. 60 days of events will become 100 days and then more over time. The incentives are nothing more than lies about them being “for the children” to get the project passed. If the new stadium was just about Northwestern football, I would be all for it. It’s not Northwestern’s role to be an economic and social engine. It’s to educate future leaders and innovators. If Northwestern want to be an economic and social engine, try paying some property taxes.

    1. I agree with you….this is no concession and the number of events will only increase if this is allowed to pass. The area around Ryan Stadium is too congested with only football games. In an emergency, how easy will it be to get to the hospital during one of these events? As a Wilmette resident, I will be in attendance on August 23rd to voice my concern.

  4. I have attended a few concerts at Wrigley Field. Like Wrigley Field, Ryan Field is in a residential neighborhood. The attendees of those concerts at Wrigley Field could not care less about the neighborhood surrounding it. I have personally seen:
    – Public urination and vomiting in people’s yards.
    – Loud, obnoxious people that don’t care about the serenity or personal property of the neighborhood.
    – Large crowds gathering outside the stadium and throughout Wrigleyville with lawn chairs, tables and picnics to listen to the concerts because the music can easily be heard for blocks around the venue.
    – Traffic nightmares. (Currently we only have this for the few football games.)
    Like the concert goers at Wrigley Field, attendees of concerts and events at Ryan Field would not respect or even care about the history and dignity of Northwestern football. They would not give the Field or the area around it the reverence it deserves.
    Attendees of Northwestern football games are generally alumni and students of Northwestern and their opponents. They know the honor of Northwestern and Big 10 football and, therefore, respect our neighborhoods. Concert goers will do no such thing.
    In summary, Northwestern football forever, concerts and events never.

    1. Dignity of Northwestern football? 🤣🤣🤣 That’s a good one. We’ve seen clearly enough how abusive, racist, and entitled the “Wildcat Way” is .

  5. Six concerts is a good place to start, but hoping there’s potential to increase that number if/when the community realizes it’s (a) not a big deal and (b) actually a pretty cool thing. Most “scary” projects that neighbors get on their toes about turn out to be less impactful and more positive than everyone fears – especially when those projects increase property values, which is what happens when commercial and entertainment activity is increased. More people prefer to live in active, vibrant areas than quiet, sleepy ones.

    1. “More people prefer” sounds suspiciously like, “people are saying.” I’m sure there is exactly zero research to back this up.

      1. Compare the demand and value of property in active environments (including cities) with quiet suburbs. Has all the activity in Wrigleyville helped or hurt demand and prices? Central Street will never be Wrigleyville, but you’d be hard pressed to find an example of commercial investment lowering property values. The inverse is nearly always true.

    2. Absolutely. I am sure everyone who owns a house in that quiet neighborhood bought it hoping beyond hope that someday, somehow, the area would transform into a more active, vibrant place.

    1. Next to a FOOTBALL stadium, 7 games/year (to which I hold season tickets). Not a concert venue. Maybe if it was happening in your backyard you’d give it more than a second of thought.

  6. Schill says, “The new stadium has never been solely about Northwestern football; its role as an economic and social engine goes well beyond that.”

    Is there anything else this guy can get wrong? First embarrassing NU by doing a 180 on Fitz’s suspension in 3 days time and admitting he never read the entire Maggie Hickey report. Now making ridiculous statements that completely miss responding to the concerns of neighbors. Schill is not an elected official or employee of the City. He is (with deep regret) President of NU. Cutesy proposals like tying stadium revenue to an annual payoff will only lead to more debate. Build a new football stadium to replace the existing stadium. Use the stadium for NU and community events. If that model doesn’t support the planned construction, scale back the blueprint. NU can always add to the building later on. What’s so difficult about that?

  7. This is such a sad attempt by NU to create the type of division that is showing in this comment section. They didn’t address any of the environmental, noise, or traffic concerns. The proposed contributions are great, thanks Ryan family for giving yourself another tax break. And by the way, a ticket tax to create a fund, still NOT a contribution from NU. What happened to the Good Neighbor Fund? Is that coming back? How are we not at least getting $1M per year for the massive variances and zoning changes being proposed here. This isn’t a negotiation, this is just a diversion to make those on the fence seem like they now have to support the stadium project. This is totally expected and very sad. Evanston residents, wake up and put on your big kid pants. Never accept the first offer. Shame on Northwestern for not even attempting a meaningful negotiation.

  8. They think they will get it through via Biss on a tie breaker. It is all going to plan…

  9. Folks, Evanston is struggling because we have made it so difficult to invest and grow our economy here. We continually reject tall buildings downtown – and the hundreds of new residents they would bring – out of concerns about traffic, parking, or what-have-you; yet our downtown now finds itself without enough foot traffic to support retail. Now we want to reject a tremendous entertainment facility and community space that would bring visitors, make our town more attractive to young residents, and offer both young and old residents more entertainment in town. And yet we hope that people will find our increasingly sleepy city a great place to buy a home.
    Let’s start acknowledging that Evanston isn’t the best place in the world as it now stands. It needs investment and reinvigoration.

  10. This revised proposal (including the financial contribution) is a complete joke. Northwestern continues to show its contempt for the people who live and pay property taxes in Evanston. If NU wants to build a concert arena, let them find someplace else to do it.

    Note to our elected officials: The voters are watching.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *