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, 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.