Since 2001, the 178-room Hilton Garden Inn has been a mainstay in Evanston.

Located on land that was once a public works yard that generated no local revenue, our hotel has worked hard to be a favorite of both business and leisure travelers coming to the community.

We regularly host conferences, celebrations, business seminars and special events for both local and out-of-town guests — and have served over two million in our 22 years in Evanston. 

The hotel often uses Evanston suppliers and vendors, and we have successfully employed Evanston residents in our hotel and dining facilities. 

Not surprisingly, Northwestern University is the largest driver of customers to the hotel.

Visitors doing business and research come from all over the world to the university. Parents visit their children who are studying. Faculty bring top scholars and meet in our facilities. Musicians and actors who are performing or teaching stay in rooms and use our services. Games at Ryan Field and Welsh-Ryan Arena attract fans, coaches and athletes to our hotel. 

Yet the last few years have been a challenge for the hospitality industry like no other. Hotels in Evanston and around the nation are still struggling to come back after the pandemic slowed travel. 

That’s why we couldn’t be more excited about the plans for a new Ryan Field. The new state- of-the-art stadium will host football, other sports, concerts and events.

We relish this opportunity for with it will come more visitors to stay in Evanston hotels, eat in Evanston restaurants and shop in Evanston retail and service establishments.

The additional rooms the Hilton Garden will fill, the added meals we will serve and the increased meeting spaces the hotel will rent can be an important revenue source for our property.

With a new Ryan Field, as our hotels do better, so does the City of Evanston from room, sales and liquor taxes. And we would expect to add staff to serve these new guests, which means more jobs for Evanston.

The Hilton Garden Inn strongly supports the proposed new Ryan Field and the plans for more events at both the new stadium and Welsh-Ryan Arena.

This is an opportunity for Evanston, its businesses, its residents, and for the future of the community that we are proud to call home.

Shannon TownsendGeneral Manager

Shannon Townsend is general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn Chicago North Shore / Evanston at 1818 Maple Ave.

Join the Conversation


  1. Improving business flow is the way to raise tax revenues to fund our progressive local agenda. Let’s approve Ryan Field. Progress has many forms.

  2. The stadium project will benefit many Evanston businesses and residents as well as Northwestern University regardless of what agenda future elected officials adopt.

    Hopefully our current Council will negotiate the most financially beneficial arrangement with Northwestern.

  3. GM Townsend, what percentage of the Hilton Garden Inn’s current employees are Evanston residents?

    Evanston has a housing affordability problem, propelled in part by our high property taxes. The vast majority of our property taxes go to our schools—room, sales, and liquor taxes do not. Because NU does not pay property taxes, we all pay more.

    Our City government should not approve the Ryan Field rebuild until NU commits to payments in lieu of taxes—to our City and schools—commensurate with NU’s peer institutions and its tax-free landholdings. Our community deserves substantial, reliable funding—not just pie-in-the-sky impact projections or the paltry sums NU has earmarked in the past for its own priorities.

    As for the zoning changes NU is seeking, if NU wants to operate its athletic campus as a for-profit entertainment complex, it should put the entire property on the tax rolls and demonstrate how that development would fit the City’s Comprehensive Plan.

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