EVANSTON, Ill. — Leaders in Evanston have tabled a final vote on a proposal to build a new Northwestern football stadium.
The council tabled the vote, which was expected to happen Monday evening, until a special city council meeting on Nov. 20. This comes after getting an updated benefits package about a new deal from the university.
“We are disappointed with the decision to delay the vote,” the university said in a statement. “We remain confident the city council will approve the rebuild next week.”
Northwestern University is proposing to tear down Ryan Field, the 97-year-old stadium that looms over an upscale residential neighborhood, and replace it with a privately funded $800 million facility that the university envisions as a venue for concerts and other events.
The university originally requested a zoning amendment allowing for 15 concerts, but in the face of opposition, it dropped that number to six, which authorities told the commission is the minimum number it needs to bring in the revenue to sustain the stadium’s operations.
The previous package was worth a whopping $100 million over a 10-year period. The new package adjusts the cap to 15 years making the proposed benefits worth about $175 million.
It also includes an increase to $2.5 million in tax revenue and the installation of an Evanston-focused mural at the new facility.
Some residents are concerned that the new stadium on game days – and potential concert nights could bring increased congestion and affect access to emergency services.
City council members are said to be evenly divided, meaning the tie-breaker will likely fall to Mayor Daniel Biss. He has not said how he will vote.
“You’re just not getting a good deal,” resident Jim Froberg said. “What Northwestern Univesity is trying to do is, we have the right to hold concerts and other events in Ryan Field and you, Evnaston, can never take that right from us.”
Those backing the project, like Peggy Baxter, said they’re eager to grow the city’s relationship with the school.
“This has always been about what Evanston can receive from Northwestern,” Baxter said. “We want as much as we can get for our community. Many of us are pleased with what Northwestern University is offering.”