Northwestern University will break ground on the next step in its new Lakefront Athletics and Recreation Complex in Evanston at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13.

Construction will begin immediately. In support of the project, Northwestern Athletics and Recreation recently received a new leadership gift of $23 million from University trustees Kimberly K. Querrey and Louis A. Simpson as part of We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern.

The Lakefront Athletics and Recreation Complex will include a fieldhouse that will provide a large, indoor multipurpose facility for football practice as well as Olympic sports team practices and competitions, recreational activities and non-sporting events.

It will be named Ryan Fieldhouse in honor of the generosity of alumni Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan. The playing surface within Ryan Fieldhouse will be named Wilson Field in honor of a $15 million gift from alumni Stephen R. and Susan K. Wilson.

The complex also will include the Walter Athletics Center, a state-of-the-art facility that will house academic support services for more than 500 student-athletes, a nutrition center and dining facility, a sports performance center, and office space for coaches and administrators. The building is being named in recognition of a $40 million gift from alumni Mark and Kimbra Walter.  

“This is a landmark day for our entire campus community,” said Jim Phillips, vice president for athletics and recreation. “Ryan Fieldhouse and the Walter Athletics Center will provide the finest support, training and developmental facilities for Northwestern student-athletes in an incomparable location.”

Phillips says the new facility “will seamlessly integrate athletics into the heart of campus, offer new recreational opportunities for Northwestern students, faculty and staff, and enhance the use of the lakefront by the entire Evanston community.”

The groundbreaking ceremony will include comments from Northwestern President Morton Schapiro, Phillips, and Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald, as well as the Ryans and the Walters.

Ryan Fieldhouse and the Walter Athletics Center will be located adjacent to the existing Henry Crown Sports Pavilion/Norris Aquatics Center and Combe Tennis Center.

Ryan Fieldhouse will include:

  • Wilson Field, a full-sized indoor athletic field that will enable Northwestern’s student-athletes to practice and/or compete indoors during inclement weather.
  • Strength and conditioning space for Olympic sports teams.
  • Seating to accommodate campus events such as University convocations, Dance Marathon and other community functions.
  • Sports medicine facilities.
  • Locker rooms for multiple Wildcats varsity programs.

The Walter Athletics Center will include:

  • Headquarters for Northwestern football, including coaches’ offices, meeting rooms and locker rooms.
  • A football strength and conditioning center.
  • Offices for coaches of numerous varsity teams.
  • A nutrition center and dining facility.
  • Academic and professional development support offices.

The Norris Aquatics Center, home of Wildcats swimming and diving, will be expanded.  Enhancements will include a new dryland training area, locker rooms, coaches’ offices and multipurpose meeting space.

The entire project also will incorporate the replacement of three existing recreational basketball courts and an indoor running track currently located in the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion.

Construction of a new outdoor football practice field and renovation of the soccer/lacrosse and field hockey fields that began this summer will provide improved facilities for varsity sports, club sports and intramurals.

The renovated soccer/lacrosse field will be named Lanny and Sharon Martin Stadium in honor of a $15 million campaign gift from alumnus J. Landis (Lanny) Martin and his wife, Sharon, while the new football practice field will be named Chap and Ethel Hutcheson Field. A new playing surface at the nearby home of Wildcats field hockey was completed this summer. 

The most recent leadership gift, a $23 million commitment, will be recognized by naming the Kimberly K. Querrey and Louis A. Simpson Wing in the Walter Athletics Center. This space will house a state-of-the-art nutrition center for student-athletes, a dining facility that also will host University events, as well as the academic services, student development and compliance departments. The gift from Querrey and Simpson raises their total support of the “We Will” Campaign to more than $152 million.

Northwestern also recently received a $5 million gift from Mitchell and Valerie Slotnick in support of Athletics and Recreation. In recognition of the family’s generosity, Northwestern will name the atrium of Ryan Fieldhouse the Mitchell and Valerie Slotnick Atrium.

“The generosity of Kimberly Querrey and Lou Simpson, along with the Slotnick family and other recent donors, provides tremendous momentum as we move forward on this project,” Phillips said. “We are forever grateful to those leadership donors — namely the Ryans, Walters, Wilsons and Martins — who have demonstrated their belief in this project from the outset with unwavering commitment.” 

The Lakefront Athletics and Recreation Complex project also includes the extension of a popular University walking/biking path along the shore of Lake Michigan on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

The path will be extended north around Ryan Fieldhouse/Walter Athletics Center to Campus Drive, thereby linking a city of Evanston bike path on the south end of campus with Lincoln Street, a city-designated bike route, on the north end. When the project is completed, the University’s north beach will be open to Evanston residents.

More information about the project is available online.

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