EVANSTON, Ill. — One day after protesters marched to Evanston City Hall to rally against renovations to Northwestern University’s Ryan Field, Evanston’s Land Use Commission heard from residents again Wednesday about their concerns regarding the university’s football stadium rebuild project.
At least 45 people signed up for public comment during the land use commission meeting Wednesday night, the second of such meetings so far where residents have expressed their thoughts and concerns on Northwestern’s planned renovations of Ryan Field.
Some residents were supportive, while others were less so.
“In six blocks surrounding where I live, there are 13 vacant businesses, we would like some traffic, we would like some business in our downtown,” said Susan Barrett-Kelly. “There are plenty of neighbors who are very supportive of this project, I cannot wait to see an architectural gem in our backyard.”
“Northwestern is asking permission to invite over 30,000 people into our city,” said David Cook. “The proposal amounts to the following – don’t worry, it won’t be that bad, trust us.”
The $800 million project would rebuild Ryan Field, but also rezone the area to allow for six concerts at the stadium, a major sticking point for many neighbors.
The Evanston Chamber of Commerce released a statement Tuesday, saying they support the planned renovations, citing an economic impact study to back their stance. That study found the new stadium would generate $1.3 billion in economic impact to Cook and Lake Counties.
Despite the study, some residents are still skeptical of the impending implications surrounding the Ryan Field rebuild.
“It is insulting to Black people’s intelligence that a zoning change and a stadium is going to provide generational wealth,” said Darlene Cannon. “It will provide low income.”
An additional land use commission meeting is planned to take place in October, where they are expected to give the commission’s recommendation to City Council.