EVANSTON, Ill. — Community leaders in Evanston met with Northwestern University officials Thursday over the proposed renovations of Ryan Field.
The nearly $1 billion project will be built with private dollars but needs the city’s approval.
Supporters pointed to independent polling commissioned by the university showing nearly 2-to-1 support from residents, but opponents said they believe the numbers are skewed.
Those who back the project are hoping the rebuild will be complete by the summer of 2026.
“I’m excited about this potential impact, not just for Northwestern, but the community at large,” Clarence Weaver, a business owner, said.
Weaver is among the community leaders who are supporting the renovations.
The proposal to tear down and rebuild Ryan Field was unveiled by university leadership just months ago.
University officials pointed to the economic opportunity for local community vendors and tradesmen with high-wage jobs during and after construction.
“We have the opportunity and the responsibility to do so in a manner that is truly inclusive of the entire community,” Northwestern University Athletic Director Derrick Gragg said.
But some, like Kevin Brown, aren’t backing the plan and allege the university didn’t fulfill promises to the community in 2012.
“The university had the opportunity to do this between 2012 and 20199 when it had several billion dollars under the table,” Brown said.
Petition drives and pushback from surrounding residents are intensifying as homeowners and renters in the immediate vicinity worry about traffic congestion.
“I feel so blindsided by this project,” Gela Lamming said. “I feel like they’re just rushing it.”
Some critics also oppose plans by the university to host concerts and other non-football events year-round.