Delores Holmes.

Several community leaders from Evanston’s west side spoke out at the Family Focus building Thursday afternoon in support of Northwestern University’s plan to rebuild Ryan Field.

Former 5th Ward Alderman Delores Holmes said the jobs that the project could bring to the community “are just fascinating to me.”

“It’s going to mean so much more to my community, as well as the overall Evanston community,” Holmes added. The stadium, she said, “is not in my backyard, but it’s in my community, and I want to see it flourish.”

Northwestern has set a target of doing 35% of the projects total subcontracted spending with local minority-owned and women-owned businesses and giving priority to businesses and individuals located in Evanston.

Clarence Weaver.

Clarence Weaver, owner of the C&W Market and a minister at Second Baptist Church, wearing a “Fans of Ryan Field” T-shirt, said, “Any time you have a business opportunity of this scale that can impact the community — I’m excited about that.”

“A billion dollar effort is not an easy task, it comes with a lot of risk and a lot of issues,” Weaver added, “but unless we’re engaged, we can’t be a part of the resolution of those issues.”

Monte Dillard.

Monte Dillard, pastor of First Church of God, said he’s “excited and hopeful about this tremendous project” the likes of which “will likely only happen once in a lifetime.”

The project has drawn opposition from some residents — especially among stadium neighbors — over concerns about a proposed increase in large-scale events, including music concerts.

But the university says it will provide nearly 3,000 jobs during the rebuild and that the project will have nearly $660 million in economic impact to Evanston.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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