Northwestern University’s chief operating officer told the Land Use Commission Wednesday night that the school needs six concerts to generate funds to maintain the proposed new Ryan Field stadium over time.

Figora said the university has the funding to build the new stadium, but that having only six football games won’t generate enough revenue to cover upkeep expenses.

Figora said he anticipates the concerts would generate something on the order of $2 million a year in net benefit for the university.

In addition, he said, the concerts would increase the potential value of suites at the stadium and sponsorship opportunities in the venue.

Commissioner George Halik noted that the school has lowered its request for concerts from 12 to 10 and then six.

George Halik.

“If we wait a few months, maybe it will be two concerts,” Halik said. The shifts in concert plans, he suggested, make the university’s argument that they are essential to the project “a little unbelievable.”

The commission’s hearing lasted from 7 p.m. until several minutes past midnight and included numerous questions for the university’s representatives from commission members.

Land Use Commission members.

That was followed by presentations from several neighborhood groups who sharply differed in their views about holding concerts at the new stadium.

Five of the groups, including two from Wilmette, opposed rezoning to permit concerts, the other three, all from Evanston, supported the change.

The commission is schedule to resume its hearing Sept. 27 with public comment and questions from eight residents who asked for continuances.

It appears likely that the commission won’t reach a decision about whether to recommend that the City Council approve or reject the stadium construction project and zoning amendment to permit the concerts until a third meeting scheduled for Oct. 11.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. One would think that anyone charged with evaluating land use would want to see the plot of land big enough to fit a stadium be used more than a few times per year.

    NU should take their cue for the Bears and shop around for a location to build their new stadium. I bet Skokie would be happy to have it.

    1. That would be amazing! All that land be returned to the tax rolls? What a win for Evanston.

      Like the gentleman last night comparing this situation to professional sports arenas (more apt than he realized as NU quite literally is seeking to no longer operate the stadium as a non-profit!), NU is not going anywhere so the comparison fails. If they want to find a more appropriate location with better access that isn’t right in the middle of a vibrant residential neighborhood with schools, parks, and a hospital, then great! In fact they’ve got 100’s of acres on their current campus so have at it! But they don’t do that because they don’t want the massive disruption the concerts will cause to campus life. They want 7th ward residents and home owners to absorb the negative effects instead.

    2. Return on Investment – ROI
      A solid driver for investment in any enterprise by any enterprise.

      As to a seeking a new location, great idea.

      1. How about the lake?

      Building the stadium on new lake landfill sufficiently distant from Ward 7 residents, makes sense – and it’s contiguous to campus.

      NU already has bus infrastructure that can be expanded to shuttle students to games and events.

      Still, this much more costly plan would find a whole new set of opponents.
      Starting with those who stopped Loyola University’s previously approved Lake Michigan landfill project.

      Don’t you love the new congestion on Sheridan Road right though the Loyola campus now?

      But what a venue a multi use stadium with no neighbors nearby could be!!!

      Tailgating on boats, like Tennessee and B1G newcomer Washington have been enjoying for decades.

      Maybe an adjacent new harbor, affording recreation and outreach with sailing classes and lake studies, in addition to annual revenue to the city.

      Water taxis to downtown Chicago!

      Excursions across the lake to New Buffalo and points north along the Michigan shore.

      Evanston can burnish their nascent seaside resort image. Future daughters – and sons of sons of sailors.

      Even that wind farm that some have wanted for so long might anchor further out .

      2. A move to Skokie as did Evanston Subaru?

      Seems to be another really good option to explore.

      Eden’s access may be a plus as well.

      Bring in the football fans – but also the Swifties — parking lot revenue to NU with taxes to Skokie.

      Concerts every night!!

      But, lets be careful what we wish for!

      Lets remember what Old Orchard did to Evanston’s retail scene and tax base.

    3. I’ll bet Soldier Field would be happy to host Northwestern for 10 years.
      I can’t wait to hear the 7th Ward residents complain then about their property tax increases that will follow as Evanston’s economy loses entertainment tax, sales tax, liquor tax and parking revenues to Chicago. Sure, let the old folks enjoy their sleepy little hamlet while Evanston continues to collapse.

    4. IN theory, NU should be able to do what they want with their land. Our streets are a different story. As long as the city restricts the parking on our streets, the plan is fine. Anyone who doesn’t experience the football, basketball and graduation parking nightmares — should try to understand the neighbors’ plight.

  2. The idea that they need $2 million in revenue to maintain the stadium is crazy considering that they have billions in their endowment. They gave away a few million to each of the personnel they removed from high up positions as severance. Better hiring practices would be enough to maintain the stadium in that case. Not to mention the fact that NU is horribly mismanaged all around. There’s the sex scandal with a tenured theater professor that they used their money to silence. There’s a discrimination scandal with another former chemistry professor that they also covered up. I’m sure there’s even more I haven’t heard about. If they managed the university better and didn’t have so many scandals to cover up or people to pay exorbitant severance to they’d have the money to maintain the stadium. It will cost Evanston residents more to float the stadium than it will the university. I’m am not for inviting more mismanagement and expanding the existing mismanagement into our city. This embroilment in the lawsuits with the scandals around the athletic teams demonstrates that there’s terrible mismanagement in the athletics department also. This is not the time for Northwestern to be asking for tax free profitable expansion when they haven’t demonstrated good management of their existing human resources.

  3. For those of you that actually know me … you know I am not a Northwestern fan in any way. However, what I am a fan of is Evanston – and a robust, vibrant, fun town with a wide range of activities, events and more. Northwestern and the students help to provide an energy in our town, economic tax support, a resident population that is highly educated and more. The proposal to have a world class college stadium – and a venue for live entertainment is perfect for Evanston all around. Sorry for the 20 or so families that have their homes near a stadium – get over it and get over yourselves – the stadium was there long before you were. I STRONGLY support a new stadium complex, period.

    1. You just want a beautiful field with your name on it, Ryan, admit it! 😝

      In all seriousness, what if NU raised tuition by $100 per student. Big picture, that’s a drop in the bucket an an individual level, and reduces/removes the supposed “need” for the concerts. When they started at 12 being “necessary” to offset the operating expenses and then magically go down to six, it just shatters the credibility.

      Don’t get me wrong, I am open to there being concerts there, and do live close enough where they are going to impact me, I’m just not sure six is the number if ultimately it’s mainly a cash grab for the university. I think if they say it’s three and they’ll only be on Saturdays between Memorial and Labor Day, I think that gets it done. Six concerts could still mean most Saturdays through the summer. Remember, many of those living in the immediate vicinity are impacted by a long weekend of Out of Space, too.

  4. The sad part is that NU and the process of multiple long meetings is really an effort to grind us into submission. They will keep having meetings…people will be tired of fighting NU and stop voicing their concerns. NU will finally state there is no opposition to the stadium, the concerts, etc. and will grind us into submission. For those that oppose the stadium (for any multiple of reasons), there needs to be coordination on the part of the opposition so that constant pressure is presented at every meeting letting our officials know that we oppose the stadium and, we don’t end up having opposition fatigue which NU will exploit to there advantage.

  5. Once the deal is approved, many residents fear that NU slowly chip away at it. It’s a reasonable concern, given NU’s lack of transparency in the past. Watch 6 concerts morph into 8-10-12. Then dozens upon dozens HS graduations throughout Cook & beyond. The idea that folks will ride-share therefore they don’t need 20,000 parking spaces is pie-in-the-sky. The promise that Central Street & surrounding area won’t be overly congested, loud & a nightmare to muddle through is naive. Can someone break down percentage of 7th ward residents & adjacent Wilmette residents who are pro versus con at this stage? I’m curious.

    1. Hi Mary,
      Assuming the zoning text amendment limits the number of concerts to six — then it would require another zoning text amendment to increase the number of concerts beyond that.
      I think it is fair to assume that if six concerts turn out to be the disaster you anticipate, an increase in the number of concerts would not be approved.
      In fact, you might anticipate a new zoning text amendment that would undo the permission for concerts.
      — Bill

      1. Let’s say they got the concerts and they were a disaster. Do you think the city would have any way to undo the zoning allowance with out the costly burden of law suits by northwestern against the city?

        1. Yes. (Although there are no guarantees — any zoning issue can always end up in court.)
          You may remember that when the City Council chose not to extend the pandemic-delayed test of events at the stadium the university did not sue to challenge that.
          Also, it would be possible to structure a new authorization of concerts with a sunset clause, requiring review for continuation after a period of time.
          — Bill

          1. It’s important to recognize that the 2019 change had a built-in expiration and specifically stated in the ordinance that it “shall not” be considered precedent. That’s a far cry from “undoing” a zoning change.

      1. A little more context:
        Northwestern has 20,000+ students, Brown 10,000+.
        City land area NU 4.6%, Brown 1.1%
        Endowment NU $16 billion vs. Brown 6.5 billion
        TV contract for all Big 10 is $7 Billion vs. Ivy League – a lot lot less
        NU good neighbor $1,000,000 vs Brown 8.7 million annual

        I do not know if Providence is more deserving. Is Evanston only 1/8 deserving of Providence? Providence is certainly larger and more diverse economically. When one looks at the money involved in NU’s annual budget ($2.9 billion), the stadium cost ($800 million), and the TV revenues, the concert money seems immaterial. A capital fund of 40 million at 5% annual yield should cover the 2 million they say they need.

        I hope they built it. The poverty excuse for having concerts is tenuous at best and disingenuous at worst.

        1. Hi Stan,
          Don’t forget that half of NU’s students are on the Chicago campus … and that if NU caves to Evanston’s PILOT demands, Chicago will have its hand out too. ‘Ubi Est Mea‘ and all that.
          — Bill

  6. Northwestern must have the concert revenue to cover their costs for the new stadium. Give me a break. But if they do actually need the cash, why not suck a couple of bucks out of the $12 Billion endowment fund? Is the value of that endowment not growing enough annually to help defray those costs? If the community really agrees to the six concerts, that’s up to them (I live in the 6th Ward myself). But why should Evanston rezone the property to keep the university happy? Is this not a bit of the camel getting its nose under the tent? And on that point, not being a lawyer myself, how does Northwestern holding events that turn a profit not violate its charter with the state of Illinois? Well, what do I know? I’ve only lived in Evanston for 25 years. Did I mention I’m an NU alum?

  7. …that Northwestern genuinely has no articulable plan as to how holding concerts at Ryan Field will actually work, logistically.
    For anyone that was at, or listened to, the meeting last night, it was clear that NU does not currently have a plan as to how they are going to get 28,500 people in and out of Evanston for their proposed concerts in anything resembling a timely and orderly way.
    They talked about needing essentially every available parking spot in Evanston. Meaning anyone that is in Evanston for anything other than the concert will be out of luck? And that a lot of the parking will be in downtown Evanston, which concert goers will be directed to with lit up traffic signs (because most people will naturally attempt to go to the concert venue to park). And once downtown, people will then realize that they are going to have to wait a half hour?, an hour?, over an hour? to take a shuttle to the concert. They will have to do the same to get back to their cars after the concert. Who is going to do that?
    Others taking the CTA will have to wait at an overwhelmed Purple Line stop for over an hour to finally clear the approximately 8,000 that will be travelling by CTA. NU may try to see if the CTA will do something different to accommodate. When?
    Those taking Ubers will have to walk to, potentially, Haven or Chandler-Newberger, to connect with their driver.
    NU has thought about the idea of asking Old Orchard if they could park 15-20 semis in their parking lot on the days and nights that concerts are in town and then stage them to come into the stadium when one of the 3 underground loading docks are open. Thought about?
    When are they going to figure these things out? Last night was THE presentation. Not a first run.
    And all of this in the hope that we can have REO Speedwagon come to town?

  8. So much misinformation. We have lots of Donald Trumps in our midst! A Land Use Commissioner actually said “Do we want a United Center in Evanston?” Really, United Center has 200 events a year, this would be 6. These statements are at the crux of the lengths people are going to spreading complete misinformation against this project. A commercial entertainment complex….really? 6 concerts? I hope when this thing is built none of the naysayers are allowed entrance and for sure none of their kids will be allowed entrance although they will be clamoring for this. Condos by Wrigley Field, major increase in value but…..again, let’s talk about keeping an aging stadium that will bring no jobs to the city or no increased tax collections. I love those that doubt the numbers in regards to the increase in tax collections. So if no project proceeds, I guess what, incremental tax collection for sure zero. Let’s repeat Harley Clarke.

    1. Natalie, you miss the very important component of the zoning change that expands their use to 60 x 10,000 person events and unliminted under 10,000. So it’s not just about 6 concerts. You’ve drank the juice that NU’s PR department is relying on. They also have a bandshell planned (yes bandshell that last night they tried to say was a “covering” even though their application and all their pictures show as a bandshell). So no, it’s not just 6 concerts, it’s 10,000 person events every 3-4 days. When Indiana played NU this past winter, 7,000 people left Welsh Ryan arena all at the same time and turned Isabella into a two lane one way street (aka cars drove down the wrong side of the road) and cars sped through alleys trying to find a way out. These are real examples of very real concerns residents have and NU has no answer to correct.

  9. The sound level generated by concerts should not be an abstract matter. A independent sound engineer should be engaged to install a speaker system and generate music at the concert levels some evening in the near future. Enable people to understand from first-hand experience.

  10. There are too many missing facts at this juncture for the LUC to support NU’s proposal In December NU said without 12 concerts, they couldn’t afford the stadium. Now it’s 6. When asked about this, NU’s representative basically said they sharpened their pencil, albeit that must have been a pretty dull pencil back in December. The LUC needs to get NU to stop throwing around numbers and instead, require a business plan that includes their assumptions for revenue accumulation vs. projected costs over the span of 5 years. Exactly how much money is needed from concerts to pay remaining debt and maintenance? Furthermore, if NU builds a stadium on the assumption that money from concerts is needed, what happens if the concerts are a bust? How are they protecting themselves and the city from having a stadium that can’t be paid for?
    Oh, and one more thing: I can only hope that the LUC is not influenced by the pro Ryan Field contingent that wants another reason to have neighbors over for drinks. Seriously you guys?

  11. Clear-Eyed is admittedly bleary-eyed over the Ryan Field controversy. Maybe some nice neighbors can help me out.

    1. Property values. Some folks, mostly nearer to the proposed project than farther away, appear concerned that proposed stadium, with newly allowed concerts, will diminish their property values. The concern is understandable, but is it justified? Anecdotally, recent properties near the stadium have sold at peak values, even in the face of rising interest rates. Does that suggest that fears about lower property values are not warranted or is it that new buyers don’t think that the project will be approved or what? Are there comparable situations to consider? Have large concerts around Wrigley Field reduced the value of property in that neighborhood, or perhaps increased them?
    2. Noise. It’s not hard to imagine that noise from a concert will be louder and more sustained than from a football game? But noise has not prevented people from wanting to live near open concert venues like Wrigley or Ravinia. Why is the Ryan situation different? The current proposal calls for a canopy, but not a dome, over the stands which NU claims will reduce noise. Has Evanston evaluated that claim? Will the canopy bring noise levels to what they are in other similarly situated venues?
    3. Size. The number of seats in the proposed football stadium is considerably reduced from the number in present Ryan Field. Yet the height and square footage of the new stadium is reportedly increased, some argue too much. But these criticisms don’t always reflect that the football field in the new stadium would, like that at the University of Michigan, be sunk well underground. And renderings I have seen don’t show the top of the stadium been much over the highest point of the current building. So, is the size criticism simply a matter of taste, or is there some objective reason underscoring it? Like shadows preventing expected sunlight?
    4. Profit. NU claims that it needs a number of concerts to generate a profit which would help sustain the financial viability of the stadium project. Recently, NU reduced the number of events required for that profit, and correspondingly increased its lack of credibility on this score. Still, some neighbors object to NU gaining any profit from the venture. Shame on both sides. In relatively rare instances, such as at Michigan, an athletic department operates financially independently from the university of which it is otherwise a part. Apparently, NU’s athletic department is not so fortunate, and NU’s sports teams collectively need to be subsidized by the university. The money NU uses for operations comes from many sources, such as grants, gifts, tuition, royalties, and more, and some, if not all, of that money is fungible. How is a dollar it might make at a concert any different than one earned another way? I recognize that some in Evanston object to profit making generally, but have we learned nothing from the Harley Clarke Mansion fiasco? Do we really need another dilapidated and largely unused structure, this time on Central St.?
    5. Beyond the neighborhood. A new stadium, with concerts, is arguably a benefit to Evanston generally. Some genuinely oppose the new project based on how they evaluate its merits, and some seem to object it conditionally. That is, they could be persuaded if NU would only pay its “fair share,” whatever that is, to the community. NU may regard such requests as political blackmail, because it is, but the hard reality is that this is a once in a more-than-one generation opportunity for all parties. NU needs a new stadium and, perhaps, revenue sources, and Evanston, even if it were better managed, needs more money now and will need even more in the near future. The challenge for the Land Use Commission and then the City Council will be to secure clarification of the various claims and concerns on all sides and then figure out how to reach an agreement acceptable to most, if not all, parties in interest.

  12. We should all be aware that one day, gratefully, the current zoning requests pertaining to Ryan Field will be settled. At that time, we will need to come together as residents and neighbors to not only solve problems but to address our common desire to build Evanston in a great place to live. So, perhaps like the hypothetical political debate at the Thanksgiving table, I will try to remember that those who oppose my view are not my enemies but my neighbors who see things differently. If we all do this, perhaps we can turn down the temperature on this debate.

    I support the rebuilding of Ryan Field and rezoning for events because I’m in it for Evanston. How Northwestern spends its endowment, how its donors condition their money or how NU budgets to spend on facility maintenance are not questions left up to me.

    My one line elevator speech is that I don’t see or hear any better ideas for revitalizing Evanston’s economy than activating an underutilized space for occasional entertainment events at no cost to the city. Whatever Evanston makes from tax revenue and NU contributions is on a basis of ZERO dollars from us. It’s all gravy. How many times will we get a deal like this? The job training opportunities for unemployed and underemployed neighbors to enter the building trades cannot be underestimated. I truly worry about the chilling effect a denial of this proposal sends to other parties interested in investing in our town, when our most recognizable institution and largest employer cannot make the largest private investment in our history for free. What other organizations will think it better to pass on Evanston?

    If these proposals are denied, Northwestern will retain their ability to host crowds of up to 47,000 people for football games, which has happened 19 times since the most recent remodeling. Once or twice each season these are night games. I’ve never received a satisfactory explanation for why the traffic, parking accommodation and noise associated with a crowd of that size is acceptable but a crowd of up to 28,000 is not. This statement is not intended to be confrontational. I just don’t get it.

    The other common objection is that Northwestern will make a profit from events at Ryan Field. Well, I think that’s the point. My understanding is that these proceeds are needed to cover the estimated $3 million dollar a year maintenance requirement on the new facility. Some want NU to cover these expenses differently. Perhaps the university doesn’t want to take more from the academic operating budget to subsidize athletics at a higher level than it currently does. And, unless someone has made an directed contribution to stadium maintenance, the endowment is not an option. Besides, many other not for profit or not tax paying entities regularly host special events in their space to raise funds. It just doesn’t upset me.

    This summarizes why I support the rebuilding and rezoning of Ryan Field. I’m on Team Evanston. Many neighbors exercise their right to feel differently. I hope we can find future common ground to truly make Evanston the Most Livable City.

    1. Susan,
      Yours is a well- stated and reasoned comment. As with most zoning issues, things tend to be emotional and strident and lose sight of reality.

      I suggest that with such a consequential project, NU should also be working on contingency plans. These plans probably include considering other locations. As another commenter mentioned, be very careful of what you wish for Evanston. Having tens of thousands of people visiting the town multiple times a year isn’t a bad thing.

    2. Susan, i truly appreciate your comments about how we should speak to each other on this. So, i hope this comes across politely…

      Let me start with I don’t believe it’s accurate to describe this as free for Evanston. The direct impacts to the residents near the stadium will be massive. We know all too well from the football games that this cost will include everything from traffic, to trash, to noise, parking, and even public safety. Not to mention the very direct negative impact the events will have on many of our beloved local business that will suffer due to these same issues. Yes, some will be better off, but many many more will suffer. Central street is blocked from parking for every home game and those businesses suffer for it. And I’ll bet all the food/drink venues won’t do nearly as well as they think with all the fancy new accommodations at the stadium they’ll suddenly be competing against for those entertainment dollars from outside vendors being brought in by NU! And folks are taking over 200 shuttles directly to/from other locations so they won’t even get a chance to venture into the local shops. Are the business downtown excited for that sure! Is that fair to the Central street business district and residents to get all the pain and no gain, definitely not!

      All this is a massive costs to our citizens, and NU’s claims of all the goodness it will bring haven’t been verified, and they refuse to share their data to support their claims. So what are they hiding? They are clearly the ones that will benefit here, and all at massive direct and indirect costs to our citizens and local businesses closest to the stadium.

      But most importantly, I hope I can help explain why this is different for yourself and those that perhaps don’t live close enough to understand the nuances of the highly choreographed college game-day events …

      There has been plenty published about how very different the quantity, volume, duration, type, and start/end times of the noises are. Not to mention big10 football ALWAYS being scheduled on Saturdays, with the really rare Friday night, but definitely not on sundays or weekdays as NU is now asking to allow for concerts! There also has been plenty of data published about how frequently/infrequently NU actually does fill the stadium to capacity, and how a good portion of that capacity is students from a few blocks away. But what isn’t talked about enough is how the entire neighborhood transforms into a completely different place on game day to accommodate, and even celebrate, the Wildcats home football games. Lawns are tuned into parking lots, the adjacent golf courses is shut down and turned into 100’s of acres of massive parking and tailgating parties. Even the Metra parking is turned into a tailgating scene. (So commuters better plan ahead.) Most local residents new this when they bought thier homes and are happy to support this a few times a year. I believe many (most?) enjoy the pomp and circumstance of the collegiate atmosphere and all the revelry and excitement of cheering for their local team that goes with it.

      Asking to change this 100yr agreement between the neighbors and the university to now accommodate an unlimited number of for profit (non collegiate) events of up to 10k, and 12 (now 6) 28k mega concerts that would show up the United center, is a huge burden. The makeshift front lawns and golf course parking that makes the game days feasible just isn’t a sustainable solution that can scale to meet these growing demands, and NU has clearly NOT thought this through! For reference, I’ll again mention it taking me 30 minutes just to leave my block in the late afternoon following this springs graduation ceremonies at Ryan field. That was just a few thousand people! This is not a small annoyance, but a matter of huge impacts to people’s already far to busy work and personal lives.

      I would hope folks can appreciate the amount of planning and effort that goes into the Ryan Field neighbors accommodating football game weekends, and why we are so concerned with having to deal with so many more additional events. Without the massive changes in the entire setup and character of the neighborhood on game days, turning this space into a mega entertainment complex for the sake of profits quite simply has no business in an otherwise residential neighborhood with so many schools, churches, and Evanston’s biggest hospital.

      1. JP, your response does come across constructively. Thank you. I hope my response does as well.

        I hope that as Evanston residents, we can all share in the benefits this great city has to offer. To do so, every neighborhood has, in my opinion, the obligation to shoulder what may be inconvienent and occasionally irritating to achieve a greater good for the whole of Evanston.

        Use my neighborhood as an example. For many years, our neighbors and I treasured the Margarita Inn. We enjoyed walking to wonderful meals. Our out of town visitors enjoyed staying there. No one I know thought the best use of that beloved facility was as a homeless shelter. Here’s the thing. Like it or not, Evanston needs a homeless shelter. It is far easier to repurpose an existing facility than to build one. Yes, many neighbors objected to the special use and still do. They do not imagine the problems they experience. Others, including myself, don’t have a better idea. We recognize that because the city has a problem, we have one, too, along with an obligation to share in the solution. Just saying “no” without offering a viable alternative doesn’t meet our responsibilities as citizens.

        I respectfully ask that you apply the same lens to the proposed expanded use of Ryan Field. The city of Evanston has economic problems. You share in those problems. The choices are to make this proposal work OR suggest an alternative as a economic catalyst for Evanston. You don’t think the concerts at Ryan Field will produce the economic benefits promised? Suggest a different idea.

        Those of us who live in the 4th Ward share more than our proportionate burden for housing methadone clinics, shelters and congregate living facilities for those seeking mental health services. Many don’t think this is “fair.” As I write, I think of some neighbors who would happily trade waiting 30 minutes for an ETHS graduation to clear for the frequent challenges they face. But we are more than residents of a block or a ward. We are as also residents of Evanston, willing to step up and do our part, because when Evanston has a problem, we have a problem.

        1. Susan, I’m not sure if it’s a difference of opinion or we’re not agreeing on the facts. You conveniently left out so many points I laid out and suggested it’s just a matter of a minor inconvenience for those impacted . Do you not believe the other concerns are real?

          But in regards to the traffic issue, this is an issue we currently encounter with the many events already held at the athletic facilities as they are currently used frequently for their intended purpose of collegiate and academic events all year. But obviously an extra 30mins to leave your own residential street shouldn’t be acceptable. It’s a problem that disrupts people’s already far too busy lives. Me being late for returning to work on that one example (and my son missing nearly all of his basketball game) are unfortunate, but tolerable at current levels. It’s untenable at a much higher frequency and I certainly wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

          As for the supposed benefits for Evanston, no, i absolutely don’t believe NU’s marketing. I believe we need to demand more proof on behalf of the citizens. NU’s word for what the benefits will be and who they will benefit shouldn’t just be accepted as fact. The city must do their own due diligence on what is clearly a half baked business plan. Especially given their refusal to share any supporting data! When I asked at one of the faux 7th ward community meetings, they responded that most of the data wasn’t relevant so they couldn’t share it. Really? How is anyone to believe such blatant misdirection and slide of hand? How is this lack of transparency from NU’s PR dept even remotely acceptable?

          Concerts or not, and exact revenue questions aside, we must demand actual guaranteed and legally enforceable commitments to the city and respective groups for which NU’s marketing blitz claims will benefit. NU has a terrible history in regards to town and gown matters, l to include recent secret attempts to void a federal court decree on those exact matters. They got laughed out of court thanks to local heroes finding out about it via foia. They also have a poor history on racial matters to include a recent history of making promises to the local black community, but pulling out soon after. They like snapping the picture for the press, but they don’t like to follow through.

          And I can’t stand how they talk out of both sides of their mouth about all the great jobs and “generational wealth” they are gonna bring to people of color in Evanston, and then in the next breath espouse that neighbors concerns are not valid as this is really only all over “just 18 hours a year”. How can folks not see through such clear hypocrisy!??

          As for the homelessness that led to the Margarita Inn situation, I once again don’t see eye to eye with you on that. It is a real problem in the need of a solution, but I think that was a terrible decision. That and similar ham handed decisions from multiple layers of city govt has not only put a huge burden on the 4th ward residents, but has also helped contribute to the palpable decline of our downtown atmosphere and the resulting loss of businesses downtown. This is a self created problem. Have you been to San Fran lately? I have, and it’s just an awful shell of itself. Evanston is on a similar path with well intended but short sited policies due to extreme progressive ideas that go unchecked in the race to the left.

          Note, I have immediate family struggling with addiction and going in and out of rehab, and I have extended family dealing with addiction and mental wellness. In fact, I have a sister in-law at a facility right here in Evanston. And note, her only connection to Evanston is us. We’re literally importing cook and lake counties problem. I’m not unsympathetic, and I’m not turning a blind eye to the real problems without clear solutions. In fact, I’m into it up to my eyeballs and I know first hand these facilities are NOT the answer, and in fact are far too often an enabler.

          So you do seem to tacitly acknowledge that this isn’t free. It seems your argument is more that the 7th ward residents should pay these costs so others can benefit. I’ve been clear that I don’t believe we should look at this through NU’s rose colored glasses, and we should demand more clarity and actual commitment for any community benefits.

          But please tell me, what is the critical problem this solves? I don’t see it. Evanston’s financial problems (and D65’s for that matter) are quite clearly self created, and will perpetuate with more frivolous spending unless we demand fiscal responsibility, and we rein it in by electing officials that understand business and economics. We must also demand NU pay their fair share as for far too long they have not. The recent offers are a pittance.

          So what’s this really solving? A lack of space for REO speed wagon to come to town? I just don’t see the problem we’re solving besides appeasing the ego of a mega billionaire.

          A better question is why must a billionaire donar and a staggeringly well endowed NU build a stadium so far over thier budget that they need for-profit concerts to raise millions a year in extra revenue?

          Here’s an idea, how about they remove the proposed new stadium canopies that nobody ever asked for in the first place. (Not once during any of the faux outreach meetings NU had with stadium neighbors was game noise brought up as an issue!) That’s gotta be $2M right there I’d imagine! And remove the plans for the bandshell for outdoor concerts! These are all very expensive solutions that are also in search of a problem, so perhaps we start there.

          Or better yet… NU could spend half the money to build one of the best new college football stadiums in the country, and donate even 10% of the remainder to the city (or targeted groups/charities if they so choose) and have a much greater impact for Evanston than creating jobs for just 18 hours a year slinging hotdogs and fountain sodas for minimum wage.

  13. I drove by the stadium today and said what an ideal space for pickle ball courts that so many residents want. No money is baloney, let them move the stadium and not
    disturb residents for at least a good mile away.

  14. Why not renovate?
    As has been recently suggested in an excellent essay by Mr. Aaron Cohen, why not renovate Dyche Stadium? If the Ryan Family wants to gift $480 Million to NU for a new stadium, why not “just” spend half of that amount ($240 Mil.) to renovate and use the other half of the gift to maintain it… The remaining $240 Mil could be put in a fund that would generate at least $2 Mil/yr. that the University insists is necessary to maintain the facility… Problem solved – without disrupting the peace and tranquility of nearby residents and the community at large.

    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

  15. As a resident of northwest Evanston, I can understand many of the concerns outlined by neighbors. That being said, revenue generated by the stadium for Evanston could be used to help folks who can’t afford to live in that part of our community. It could be reinvested in underdeveloped portions of the city. D65 recently announced that they were running a surprising budget deficit that was not projected. We need capital to invest in all neighborhoods, in all of our schools, for all residents.

    Most of this conversation seems to be driven by those in the 7th ward and understandably so. I’d love to hear views from other ward residents. If someone told underdeveloped parts of our community that they could see more investment in their neighborhoods (or fund our schools, infrastructure, offset inevitable tax increases, etc.), but it would come at the expense of noise pollution and traffic congestion 6 times per year mostly for northwest Evanston…what would they say?

    1. Stadium neighbors already put up with noise and congestion more than six times a year for football games (plus all of the other activity at the arena and surrounding facilities). But Evanston gets a pittance from that activity. NU’s own consultant estimates the total tax revenue raised in connection with seven home football games (on lodging, tickets, food and beverage, transportation, and retail) is only $230,000 each year: None of that goes to the public schools.

      1. Hi neighbor,
        Since you are complaining about the activity year-round at the stadium, the appropriate figure to cite from the Tripp-Umbach report would be the $1.4 million in annual tax revenue to the City of Evanston that they claim all current stadium operations generate.
        (Whether or not either number is accurate is another issue, of course.)
        — Bill

      2. I certainly think that the city needs to consider holding a hard line on the development. There’s no infrastructure to facilitate crowds going to and from large scale events. So, something will need to be done about that. The city will get need to cover other expense (clean up, etc.) that come with hosting massive events. I think it’s fair for the city to say that if NU wants this so bad, they are going to need to make a significant financial commitment to partner with Evanston in the way that many universities do across the country. Many universities have community agreements and it seems like NU simply rides the logic of “What’s good for NU is good for Evanston!” mentality. I’m not certain that is the case, but if NU is that committed to this development, I’m sure they could find funding to invest in this community rather than just claiming that tax revenue automatically solves the problems.

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