Northwestern University Monday afternoon announced a draft community benefit agreement as part of its plan to rebuild Ryan Field and offer concerts at the new stadium.

The proposal would re-establish and triple Northwestern’s contributions to the City’s Good Neighbor Fund, increasing the amount to $3 million per year.

Northwestern would also award a minimum of $2 million a year in financial aid supporting Evanston high school students and make a focused effort to increase applications and admissions to Northwestern from Evanston high school students.

And the school would provide $1 million in aggregate per year to local not-for-profits, schools, faith-based institutions and community organizations, and extend the Racial Equity and Community Partnership Grant program, which gives $500,000 annually to organizations that work to establish ambitious local programs that promote racial equity.

Other benefits that had been previously mentioned in discussions about a potential agreement include:

  • Supported by a $10 million gift from the Ryan family, Northwestern will invest $500,000 annually in local workforce development and upskilling initiatives.
  • Northwestern also will guarantee $2 million in annual tax revenues to the city, driven by and assuming concert events occur at Ryan Field.
  • Northwestern will guarantee $500,000 in aggregate annually to the two Evanston school districts, supported by a ticket surcharge on all concert tickets at Ryan Field.
  • Northwestern will set aside $250,000 in annual support for a signature event to be developed jointly between Northwestern and the city.
  • Northwestern will contribute $250,000 a year for the revitalization of downtown Evanston, including support for the downtown clean team.

NU has previously announced goals of achieving at least 35% of the stadium construction spend with minority-owned and women-owned businesses, with priority given to Evanston-based businesses

The school estimates the stadium will generate more than $659.9 million in economic impact to Evanston over the lifetime of the project. and that the design, planning and construction will support more than 2,900 jobs and generate $12 million in direct fees to Evanston.

Northwestern also has pledged to provide marketing and advertising support, in partnership with the Kellogg School of Management, to help local businesses maximize the positive impact of the new stadium.

Northwestern also will assist the city in its fundraising efforts to support Evanston’s Guaranteed Basic Income Program and jointly create a new internship program.

Northwestern plans to work with the city to forge a stronger partnership around sustainability, leveraging Northwestern’s research and programmatic expertise to drive joint sustainability initiatives and improvements.

“Northwestern has always strived to be a good neighbor for all of Evanston,” said Dave Davis, Northwestern’s senior executive director of neighborhood and community relations. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to bring this multi-million-dollar investment to Evanston to support the future development, strength and resiliency of our local economy and workforce.”

Once negotiated, finalized, and signed, such agreement on public benefits and operational/logistical matters will be legally binding and enforceable.

The Evanston City Council begins discussion of the stadium project with a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

A final vote on Northwestern’s proposal to rebuild the stadium is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 13.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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