Northwestern University today announced approval by the Board of Trustees of plans to build a major complex for athletic and recreational activities and a new parking structure on the north end of its Evanston campus.

A large indoor multipurpose facility will provide room for major events, such as the University’s annual new student convocation; indoor practice and a competition venue for intercollegiate sports; and space for recreation, club sports and intramurals. The new facilities and renovation of the existing Dellora A. and Lester J. Norris Aquatics Center and Henry Crown Sports Pavilion include new practice, training and competition venues for Northwestern’s varsity sports, a new diving well, new locker rooms and new space for aerobics, yoga and other exercise classes.

The University also plans to build a 1,200-car parking garage that will be located on the existing surface parking lot located west of the current sports and aquatics center. Preliminary estimates for the cost of the new sports complex and related construction are approximately $220 million.

“This new plan will provide greatly enhanced recreational facilities for all of our students, increased parking at the north end of campus and improved key areas for our athletic programs,” said Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro. “This will be a benefit to many members of the Northwestern community.”

The timetable for construction on the new athletic and recreational facilities is dependent on fundraising.

When the construction is complete, all of Northwestern’s football program activities will be consolidated on the main campus, rather than at Ryan Field, which will continue to be where games are played. Currently football players practice and train in the area adjacent to Ryan Field, approximately a mile west of Northwestern’s main campus in Evanston.

“This will provide state-of-the-art, transformational practice, training and competition facilities for our varsity sports,” said Jim Phillips, director of athletics and recreation. “The improvements will provide better integration of our student-athletes with other students on our main campus, reducing the divide that manifests when there are separate facilities for student-athletes, as occurs at many other institutions.

“We are extremely appreciative of the support for athletics and recreation displayed by President Schapiro, the Board of Trustees and the board’s Educational Properties Committee,” added Phillips. “The vision shown by University leadership has paved the way for this opportunity, one sure to provide exceptional benefits for our student-athletes and coaches, and the entire Northwestern community.”

The new complex will include:

• A multipurpose/indoor practice facility with seating for 2,500.

• A diving well that will be adjacent to the existing swimming pool.

• An outdoor practice field for varsity sports, club sports and intramurals.

• Locker rooms, fitness and weight rooms, sports medicine facilities, meeting rooms and offices.

• A 1,200-space parking structure. The first floor of the building will contain fitness studios, weight rooms and other areas for exercise and recreation.

“The construction of the new facilities and parking structure follows the University’s Framework Plan, which guides the long-term development of the Evanston campus,” said Eugene S. Sunshine, senior vice president for business and finance. The plan, which was adopted in 2009 after extensive input from students, faculty and staff, calls for improved recreational and athletic facilities on the main campus, creation of additional green space in the center of campus and moving parking to the edges of campus.

Northwestern is currently replacing two parking lots in the central part of the Evanston campus with a two-acre green space. Located just south of Silverman Hall and west of the Allen Center, the new Mid-Campus Green will feature a broad lawn area, extensive landscaping and pedestrian walkways.

Join the Conversation


  1. NU Parking Garage

    What NU does within their campus is up to them.  Take a look at their plans for a 7 story parking garage at the end of Clark Street beach, east of Sheridan Road. 

    1. You must be referring to the new Visitors Center

      I assume you are referring to the university's new Visitors Center, now under construction, that includes a new 435-car garage that will replace the existing two-story parking structure. It is not on the Clark Street Beach.

  2. gorgeous!

    Great job NU!   An Alum myself, always thought it sad that such beautiful semi-lake front property was a parking lot.  Makes great sense to consolidate that to a parking garage and open up the area.

      Can't wait to check it out- 



  3. Money to burn

    This is the second time in 25 years that the university has renovated the Crown Center.

    Hey, it's a free country and it ain't my dollars, but as an Evanston resident…what's in it for me?

    How about working with ETHS and offer some practice time slots for teams when the weather is cruddy?

    If it is anything like the lacrosse/soccer/feld hockey fields, it will be empty the majority of the time. Neighbors of facilities adjacent to Dyche Stadium have to be asking themselves what is going to be built where the teams work out now?

    1.  ‘Going Broke by Degree’

      'Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much' by Richard Vedder [an NU grad] talks about this type of expenditure.  Schools keep providing [students demand] all kinds of facilities, sports, majors for a few and more teachers, new administration to take care of every [small] need and represent [with new staff] every small group, new buildings, new social programs and on and on. 

      Obviously students need some recreaction, a place to meet, etc. but do they really need all the facilities they demand ? conference sports ? etc. ?  Do these contribute to their education or just provide more ways to escape from studying ?   Do they go to school to learn or for the schools reputations, parties, professors research [which depending on their field and interest have no educational purpose] or do they want an education.  As George Will commented when the girl who left the Citadel Academy—".. no sthe did not want to GO TO Citadel—she wanted to GRADUATE from Citadel."  Many students want to GRADUATE  from Harvard [reputation,  networking], U.Wic. [partyand left social], NU [reputation, parents went their and networking], etc. not to get an education.

      Students of course pay for all this–or rather their parents—in always increasing tuition and fees and extra expenses.   Government sees college as valuable so they support the colleges which then means the college can charge more since government funds are looked at as 'extra.'  Costs go up so students need more loans—and thus debt after graduation which the government may eventually seek to forgive.  Students don't consider if their education will allow them to get any kind of job to pay their college debt or post-college expenses—they take majors they have no hope of getting a job through and may be able to select electives that don't even provide a 'liberal arts'education.  [I'm all in favor of a liberal arts education including history, literature, but also math/science at least at calculus/physics level].

      Taxpayers also wind up paying for much of this through government grants which come from our taxes, college debt that is and/or cannot be repaid, support for grads who can't find jobs, etc..

      Students want 'it all.'  Parents and educators must step up and ask what is the college really for ?

      Now NU students will have a new rec cente, music building, business school [just as MBA applications are down for many schools], new student center if they can take over Kellogg when vacated.  How often do you hear about new/top EDUCATORS, not just researchers added ? new research that changes the world for the better [Tech and the Medical schools do] ?  No most of the research is the 500th paper on some topic in some journal that five people in the world will [want to] read.

      NU should get back to education not social life being the emphasis.

  4. Beating up our streets

    Consider the extreme wear and tear on Evanston's streets from the transport of materials to and from the multitude of construction projects on NU's property. Is the university taking this into consideration? 

    1. Street damage

      Trucks are not allowed on Ridge or Asbury.  As a consequence trucks used during construction at Roycemore, Dewey and the apartment North of Church on Ridge use Wesley to reach Dempster. Wesley North of Dempster is a mess and needs repaving.

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