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.

Join the Conversation


  1. I attended the event. The observations by Black faith leaders, business owners and community leaders were sincere and compelling, in particular Alderperson Holmes’ “Evanston history lesson.” I am aware of dissenting opinions in the Black community regarding this project, but left with the feeling that this project does indeed enjoy support among some influential Black leaders. A speaker from Evanston Movers and Shakers represented a community not often broadly considered, sharing his excitement that the differently abled will be also be welcomed to attend football games and events at a facility friendly to their needs. It was worth my time.

  2. I am a 76 year old Black man and if I had a dollar for everytime I heard that promise of jobs for the Black people when construction starts I would be a rich man. These are always emtpy promises, I bet you will see some Black people working holding a stop/ drive slow sign, we will learn someday.

  3. I also attended this event and enjoyed partaking in the fellowship that followed. I came away believing more than ever, that NU is committed to equity hiring, business development and community engagement.
    When I step outside of the 7th Ward, I find the discussion focuses on the merit of the project. It’s a refreshing, stark contrast to the fear mongering discourse of some Ryan Field neighbors.

    1. I have empathy for the 7th Warders who will be directly impacted by this project. That being said, many people in this community have already had to adjust to projects which benefit the greater whole of Evanston. This will be such an endeavor for the 7th Ward residents. NU will see this project through, even if it is disruptive for a few hundred people who’ve done their best to make it seem the majority agrees with their opinions. Please adjust & realize that the majority of Evanstonians disagree with your position.

      1. If I’m reading correctly, you are saying so what if a few hundred people have their property values decline, while being burdened with noise and liter and parking difficulties they’ve never had to deal with before – at least we’ll have concerts, right?

        1. Hi Jim, why do you think that property values will decline?
          Do you have any evidence to support your statement?
          In my opinion, if the rebuild of Ryan Field is executed well ; and let’s take a look at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, the Bienen School of Music building and the updated Welsh-Ryan arena; that property values will go UP !

          1. We in the 7th Ward have nothing against building a new stadium. However, it’s only logical that property values would decline for dwellings near the stadium that would have to deal with traffic congestion, crowd noise, concert noise, liter, and parking problems. Show me how property values would otherwise increase. NU’s argument is that this would add $ to Evanston’s coffers – based on their own study that assumes each concert will sell out 35,000 seats (now reduced to 10,000). Evanstonians have yet to see a comprehensive analysis of their financial projections. Furthermore, do you really think any tax revenue NU generates is going to reduce your property taxes across the city? When our Alderpeople vote on this, the 7th ward should be given more weight than other wards simply because it has more at stake than the other wards.

  4. Fellow Citizens, Residents of Evanston,
    While I am delighted to learn that NU wants to spend $1 Bil. on a new stadium and arena and their promise of jobs and downstream economic benefits to merchants. As a lifetime SE Evanston resident, the issues of large events will not impact me greatly but what about the residents in the part of our community that are immediately in the orbit of this proposed new venue? And, what about the increased tax burdens that all residents are ultimately affected by… the gravity of which we can only surmise.
    The University will spend unimaginable monies to build this place that people will come to in droves, but seem to refuse to acknowledge, or minimize the very legitimate concerns of immediate neighbors and worse, seem to refuse to concede entertainment tax revenue for their non-athletic activities proposed there which would benefit the bottom lines of all residents and taxpayers in Evanston.
    I must ask my neighbors in in the community to please consider the facts about the certain impact on many who share that part of town.
    IMHO, the University continues to rely on an ancient covenant for tax-exemption/s which translates to more burden for all residents and taxpayers… it’s time for NU to begin meaningful conversations to join the growing number of similar Universities and Colleges that provide Payments in Lieu of Taxes.
    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

    1. Brian, I am not sure what you mean by “increased tax burden” ?
      This project would alleviate the overall tax burden for ALL Evanstonians!
      And if the city was smart , they’d be negotiating for a PILOT or something like a PILOT.
      That is, imo, NU should pay the city of evanston , d65 and D202 some additional money on an annual basis.

      Will some people be inconvenienced? YES , but that is the cost side of the equation.
      Now we need to consider the benefit side and in my opinion , the benefits far outweigh the costs

      1. Dear Anonymous Ryan field Supporter,

        I’d be grateful if you could please illuminate me on how “This project would alleviate the overall tax burden for ALL Evanstonians!” And yes, I agree that it’s time to have a meaningful dialogue with NU about annual and meaningful PILOT contributions. One can only imagine how many of their Law School’s bright minds would be harnessed to perpetuate their ancient tax exemption covenant with the community.
        Respectfully, Brian G. Becharas

  5. NU was extremely “smart” to hire our former alderman Peter Braithwaite as “Director of Procurement Diversity and Community Engagement “. His ties to the Black Pastors in Evanston enabled him to hold meetings where they all praised the NU stadium They proclaimed this is a “ once in a life time opportunity “. “This will create generational wealth “ in the Black community. Smart PR work though it’s very misleading. Electricians and other union tradesmen will go where their union sends them. The jobs that come to Evanston will be concession stand workers , security workers and cleaners. Mr Braithwaite is not being honest with the Black pastors or the community

  6. Responding to A longtime Evanston resident…
    I am deeply offended by the comments you made about the Black community regarding the jobs we are qualified to do regarding the NU Welsh-Ryan Areana. I applaud the hiring of Peter Braithwaite as the Director of Procurement Diversity and Community Engagement. The black community in Evanston often is left on the sidelines when it comes to jobs and the like. We have Electricians, Plumbers, Carpenders and more. This a great way to generational wealth. We want more and we deserve more.

  7. I am against the new stadium and I live in the 1st Ward. As a person of color who has been interviewed for jobs at Northwestern 24 times and never once been hired and always a WHITE person was hired instead I am confident that NORTHWESTERN IS LYING THROUGH THEIR TEETH AND SMILES ABOUT HIRING DIVERSITY. I live near NU campus and the students and football goers are always throwing up on my bushes, drunk students have ripped up portions of my fence, I have woken up to the screaming and shouting every year in the fall and winter and spring with the parties for new students. We are grateful when the students leave because we can finally park and not get our cars hit or scraped. If you want them in your neighborhood or ward go ahead, but I have a lot of sympathy for the 7th ward folks. It’s going to keep making Evanston worse.

  8. Mega concerts, maybe not, but very large yes. The capacity is similar to alpine valley, 2.5 times larger than Ravinia, 1.5 times larger than the United center, All-State arena, even Madison Square garden. That is a very large concert venue. The negative impacts will be felt by all residents. There should be fees and strict noise limits, also noise cut off times, with fines.

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