Eleanor Revelle.

Consultants hired by Northwestern University told residents Tuesday night the school can minimize disruptions for neighborhood residents while hosting concerts at a rebuilt Ryan Field.

In a meeting at the Civic Center hosted by Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) they faced a roomful of residents — many of whom came armed with signs proclaiming their already established views about the project.

One consultant said it would take up to a dozen semi-trailer trucks to bring in equipment for a major concert, but that the trucks would be staged off site and each one would only be at the stadium loading dock for a short time the day before the concert to unload and then again in the hours after the show ended to pack up and hit the road to the next venue.

Greg Hughes.

Greg Hughes, an acoustics expert with Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon and Williams, said his firm has already done studies of ambient noise levels around the stadium site.

He suggested that the design of the new stadium, with the playing field substantially below ground level, enclosures around the seating area and a partial canopy over the roof, would serve to reduce sound levels from what’s now experienced on game days.

In addition, he said that improvements to the positioning and number of stadium speaker systems would permit lower sound levels to effectively reach all spectators.

Another consultant focused on traffic issues, arguing that that by using offsite parking in garages in downtown Evanston and on campus as well as mass transit it would be possible to effectively handle concert crowds.

He suggested that concert goers would arrive at the stadium over a more extended period of time than football fans — with some planning to dine at area restaurants and others not bothering to show up for the concert’s opening act.

By contrast, he said concert goers would likely want to exit the stadium area faster after a performance than football fans, but that, because of the later hour that evening concerts would typically end, the amount of other traffic in roads leaving the stadium would be substantially reduced.

The consultants answered a variety of questions posed by Revelle during the session, and she announced plans to hold yet another special ward meeting on the stadium project before the plans go to the Land Use Commission for review later this summer.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. But the real question is if LUC approves the PD but not the Text Amendment (which would permit all the extra uses, e.g. concerts, NU wants), a fairly likely scenario imho, would NU still build it (and only continue to be permitted what they currently are permitted)?

    1. President Schill implied that the Ryans’ $480 million donation is for rebuilding—not merely renovating—the stadium when he said the rebuild will be cheaper for the university: “But with financial support from the Ryan family, completely rebuilding the venue would cost the same if not less than renovating, he said.” (https://dailynorthwestern.com/2023/05/23/campus/schill-nu-administrators-talk-collegiate-athletics-at-faculty-assembly/).

      On top of that, the rebuilt stadium will look much better (and much less empty) on TV, and NU is poised to receive $80-100 million annually for broadcast rights.

      Odds are they will rebuild regardless.

  2. Did anyone go to the ETHS graduation this year? The traffic took 30 minutes to clear. Can’t wait to see a full stadium concert try and clear that neighborhood.

    1. Yeah. Living a block from the stadium I know first hand how such ‘smaller’ events greatly impact our lives.

      I read the traffic study last night and was amused by all the confidence in the study. But confused that the actual scores (A-F) didn’t seem to align with the top level analysis. Do we have any traffic engineers that can help us laymen better understand the results?

    2. I went. There were illegally parked cars all over the streets and very poor traffic management.

      There has to be some effort put in to get good results. I am sure that EPD (and Wilmette PD) were aware there was going to be graduation at Ryan Field. They need to show up and do the job if we expect traffic to be managed.

    3. I also have concerns about “evacuating” 28,000 people all at once. The big winners in that scenario are folks who ride the El and Metra, or walk, bike and scooter. That demographic will continue to grow over time.

      And as mentioned at the meeting, there will be little traffic in the area at that time, say 10:00 pm. Last time I checked, our sidewalks are rolled up by then, so exiting cars will be little impeded. And most cars will be parked off site. So, it’s really not an issue.

  3. Get NU to fund the new 5th Ward school, and sponsor it for the next 25 years. Add that to the stadium plan!

  4. It was ridiculous to see the sound consultant say the average sound emitting from the stadium would be 65 dBa. Their own report shows levels up to 95 dBa going into Wilmette and west of the stadium neighborhood. Then they had the gall to say that when Eleanor requested the sound study be revised to include the C weighting which would more accurately measure concert sound, they had done the analysis, but they didn’t know the results. What the heck? Aren’t they supposed to be the experts? This was another sad attempt by NU to hide the real impacts to the city.

  5. We welcome the stadium. We live and work in the 7th ward. Yes the construction will be messy and painful but to see the stadium area expanded and improved is very exciting. Anyone who lives near the stadium and is opposed could easily sell their house. Move. It’s ok, someone will happily buy a house to live near a state of the art stadium. I’m so tired of hearing people complain anytime there is a chance for Evanston to become a better city. The same arguments- the city should get more money, more, more more. The city should actually do more! The city should actually invest in the community and support businesses. The city should be so grateful that NU is in Evanston. It pretty much guarantees a population of highly educated, diverse and interesting people live, work and shop in our town. Seriously, the city mismanages and wastes enough money. The city does not need anymore money to give out for free or flush down the toilet with any of Reid’s, or Biss’s ideas. Let NU build the stadium. We would like some traffic plans, parking plans and contingencies to make sure that businesses on Central Street aren’t shut down or blocked every time there is an event. But let’s work together. And if you live near the stadium and are unhappy about it, I’m fairly confident your house will sell faster than an Evanston City Council meeting.

    1. Wow! What callous disregard for the Evanstonians that have invested their life savings and are trying to raise a family here in an over 100 year old residential neighborhood. Just sickening!

      But I tell you, I agree with the city’s blatant msimanagent. The words and acts of our elected officials, and too many comments like this, show the character of many here that makes me want to get far far away from this once great town that is now increasingly filled to the brim with people constantly virtue signaling but completely void of virtue!

  6. NU’s audio consultant was a joke. Outdoor arena concerts are typically 100 decibels. If our city officials approve this, NU can bring any performers they want to; it will totally be at their discretion. They could host Metallica, and if things got too loud for neighbors, their remedy would be a “Oops, sorry” from NU after the fact. At most, somebody would pay a small fine, that’s it. With the money NU is planning to make from this stadium, any fine would be less than chump change.

    What’s to stop NU from having a concert as loud as the recent Fall Out Boy show at Wrigley, which was heard from miles away? The answer: Nothing.

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