Northwestern University late Wednesday released renderings of a schematic design for the new stadium to replace the 97-year-old Ryan Field

In a news release the school said the new stadium would be funded entirely with private dollars and would create a world-class home for Northwestern University Athletics.

The existing stadium as seen from the corner of Central and Ashland. (Google Maps image)

The new design calls for a maximum capacity of 35,000 fans, 12,000 fewer than the current stadium.

It would also have a state-of-the-art canopy “designed to focus noise and light on the field.”

A rendering of the planned new stadium, showing the canopy over the field.

NU says the new stadium is being designed to achieve LEED Gold certification and will apply universal design standards, becoming one of he most accessible stadiums in the country.

The new design changes the layout of the playing field from the existing north-south alignment to a northwest-southeast orientation.

The school says that based on meetings with neighbors, the stadium plans include a variety of efforts — beyond the reduction in capacity — to cut vehicular traffic.

Those projects may include a complimentary bike valet program, to promote safe cycling while improving traffic flow and provide safe bike storage during game days, and initiating conversations with Metra, CTA and ride-sharing services to explore more efficient scheduling and availability.

A rendering of the planned northwest plaza outside the stadium along Ashland Avenue near Welch-Ryan arena.

The school says it also is planning an underground loading and service dock, away from the sight lines of nearby residents and businesses.

In a decision that is certain to raise concerns among neighbors, the school says that to ensure the financial viability of the new facility, it is considering hosting a limited number of concerts each year.

But officials say they plan “to work closely with the City of Evanston, residents and community partners in determining the optimal number of concerts per year.”

The school claims concerts could generate over $35 million in new tax revenue for the city in the first decade of the new stadium’s operation..

The university plans to hold a series of community listening and learning sessions before formally beginning the process of seeking approval of the project from the city.

More information about the project is available online.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. If NU wants to build a commercial facility that also hosts their football team, they should do it elsewhere, not in the heart of a residential community. And as a bonus, they could return the land to the tax rolls since they won’t need a football stadium there. This proposal is totally inappropriate for our community.

  2. We are really excited to see NU invest in Evanston! This looks like a great project and the fact that they reduced capacity shows they are wanting to make this fit within the community. Everyone who lives or has a business in this area knew what you were getting into when you bought here. No one can say they didn’t realize a major stadium was in their community. Without NU Evanston would be a really depressed city. There wi for sure be hiccups and inconveniences as construction begins, but the final project looks amazing. Homeowners will most likely see their value increase as a result.

  3. This has the makings of a lovely project, and I think its one that NU should have a right to pursue. Lets not forget that this site has hosted a stadium long before it was developed residentially. Every single homeowner who lives in proximity to the stadium bought their homes knowing a stadium was next door. Why does everything have to be perceived as bad in this town? How is offering community open-space and programming a detriment to the neighborhood? How is a new stadium with lower capacity and obvious considerations for managing traffic, noise, and light pollution a bad thing? I’ve never seen a college town fight its identity so consistently. For just a second imagine if we embraced our deep ties and associations with this world class institution.

  4. Everyone living near the stadium bought into the stadium’s existence and the stadium effect was priced in to every house’s purchase price. And every home owner knew that this was one of the smallest, oldest stadiums in a leading football conference, and this would obviously be a likely candidate for rebuilding and expanding. So stop whining please and take some self responsibility for YOUR decision to buy here. NU is Evanston’s bedrock. Same for all the home owners who whine about noise from NU student neighbors. You have no standing to whine.

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