Northwestern University says it plans to file a permit request soon for its new Lakefront Athletics and Recreation Center in Evanston with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The school says it also will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and other agencies in regard to construction of the building.

And the school says renovation of its soccer/lacrosse and field hockey fields and construction of an outdoor football practice field will begin this spring.

The center will include a new fieldhouse that will provide a large, indoor multipurpose facility that will be used for football practice as well as other athletic team practices and competitions, recreational activities and non-sporting events.

The new fieldhouse will be named Ryan Fieldhouse in honor of the leadership generosity of alumni Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan. The field located inside the fieldhouse will be named Wilson Field in honor of support from alumni Stephen R. and Susan K. Wilson.

A rendering of the planned indoor Wilson Field.

Additionally, the construction of a new outdoor football practice field and renovation of the soccer/lacrosse and field hockey fields 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 campaign gift from alumnus J. Landis (Lanny) Martin and his wife, Sharon.

Northwestern also has received a leadership gift from alumni Mark and Kimbra Walter, providing significant support for Northwestern Athletics and Recreation. 

Ryan Fieldhouse will be located adjacent to the existing Henry Crown Sports Pavilion/Norris Aquatics Center and Combe Tennis Center. The new facility will replace an existing structure, which houses three basketball courts and a running track and a nearby outdoor parking lot.

Northwestern will hold an informal information session on the center from 7 to 8:30 p.m. March 18 in Studio 2 on the first floor of the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion, 2311 Campus Drive. The information session is open to the public, and free parking is available in the North Campus Parking Garage immediately adjacent to the Crown Sports Pavilion.

The project will include:

  • Ryan Fieldhouse, which will house a full-sized indoor athletic field that will enable Northwestern’s student-athletes to practice and compete indoors during inclement weather. The fieldhouse will also be used for campus events, such as Dance Marathon.
  • Portable seating for approximately 1,000 people with room for additional seats, so the facility can be used as a site for University convocations and other events.
  • Three basketball courts that will be used for intramural sports and recreational activities.
  • An indoor running track.
  • Locker rooms for varsity sports teams.
  • Sports performance areas with weights and exercise equipment.
  • Sports medicine facilities.
  • Renovation of the existing soccer/lacrosse and field hockey fields and construction of a new outdoor football practice field that would be used for varsity team practices, intramurals and other purposes.

Construction will begin as soon as permits and approvals are secured. The University will work with the appropriate federal, state and city agencies, which will review the building plans, to ensure that the building meets all relevant regulatory requirements.

Renovation of the soccer/lacrosse and field hockey fields and construction of the outdoor football practice field will begin this spring and is expected to be completed by spring 2016. Some portions of the project may be completed earlier.

Northwestern last fall opened a major expansion of the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion that included new fitness studios, a room with new weights and exercise equipment, and related facilities. The facility provides exercise and recreational space for students, faculty, staff and members of the community who join the sports and aquatics center. At the same time, the University opened a new sailing center on the south end of the Evanston campus, providing greatly improved facilities for students and local residents who are members of the Sailing Center.

“The expansion completed this fall already provides greatly improved recreational and fitness facilities for members of the Northwestern community, as well as Evanston residents who are members of the Sports and Aquatics Center,” said Jim Phillips, vice president for athletics and recreation. “In addition to providing outstanding facilities for our Wildcat football team, the Lakefront Athletics and Recreation Center will further enhance and expand opportunities for our students and other members of the community.”

When construction is completed, all of Northwestern’s football program activities, other than the games themselves, will be consolidated on the main campus, rather than on the athletic campus located at Central Street and Ashland Avenue, approximately a mile west of the main campus.

“We are thrilled to take the first steps on a truly transformational project for our Wildcats student-athletes and the entire Northwestern University community,” Phillips said. “This institution cultivates and expects excellence, and this center will be second-to-none in allowing us to continue to provide a world-class experience.”

Join the Conversation


  1. recreation center
    Too bad that NU has no real interest regarding their 3 ice skating clubs: synchro, men’s hockey, and women’s hockey…not to mention a nice place for students to unwind, exercise, and socialize while general skating. If they did, they could fork over some of their many millions to help get a new Crown Center.

    1. good idea

      Has NU been asked to participate in a renovated or new Crown Ice Rink? if so what was their answer?

      1. Not Likely
        With NU putting up so many buildings, increasing all the art/music/drama, every imaginable major and course, hiring no education VP/SVPs t fill every bureaucratic position you can think of and tuition even “well off” students are putting into debt to repay [or not repay for lack of jobs in their filled], it is doubt able they will contibute anything.

        1. Crown/NU
          What a shame…..a large, new up-to-date building would be such an asset to the city, and the university!…Does anyone know if NU WAS actually approached about this?

        2. Why Just NorthWestern
          Why not ask all the businesses that the TAXPAYERS have given loans and forgivable loans to over the past 10 years. Also include all those with 10 or more employees. but first perhaps and audit needs to be done to see if the current facility is operating at break even at least. Why invest millions on a new place if your not operating at break even. Would you invest ina company that is always losing money?

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