The TV news cameras were lined up Monday night to record the Evanston City Council’s final vote on Northwestern University’s plan to rebuild Ryan Field. But it didn’t happen.
Instead, on a motion by Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th), the Council voted 6-2 to table the stadium ordinances until a special meeting next Monday.
Nieuwsma said the delay would give council members time to digest the big changes to the community benefit agreement negotiated with the university that were released on Saturday.
Those changes increased the headline value of the benefits offered by the school to the city from $100 million to more than $157 million, spread over a period of roughly 18 years.
Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) called the deal “a very weak agreement” and said she’d felt disenfranchised by the negotiating process, which she claimed she’d been excluded from.
But Mayor Daniel Biss said the city’s legal staff was funneling all concerns from council members into the discussions with the university and that Kelly was free to participate in that.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) called the revised deal “a very strong agreement” and said council members who had been participating in the discussions had done “a lot of heavy lifting.”
Nieuwsma said he was not interested in continuing to negotiate and that he’s looking forward to approving the agreement in a week.
“It’s an awesome deal now,” he said, exceeding the agreement Brown University and three other schools made with Providence, Rhode Island last month.
(Critics, though, have argued that Brown will be paying Providence roughly one third as much as Yale is giving to New Haven, Connecticut.)
The Brown University deal includes the city’s agreement to transfer five blocks of city streets to the university.
It appears that the same four council members plus Mayor Daniel Biss who cast the tie-breaking vote two weeks ago to introduce the Ryan Field ordinances are prepared to give final approval to the deal next week.