It took more than a year for the privately funded construction project to pass the city council.
It was a close game, but in the end, Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss cast the decisive vote at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting to approve the rebuilding of Ryan Field.
By a vote of five to four, the Evanston City Council voted to allow Northwestern University to rebuild Ryan Field.
“I feel like we did the right thing for Evanston,” Mayor Biss said. “It’s been a long, difficult journey with a lot of strong emotions, but in the end, a world-class, completely privately funded facility has created many jobs for the people of this city.”
It is an $800 million project and, with approval, the stadium will be able to host six concerts per year.
And it’s been a hot topic for weeks, leading to hours of meetings with concerned residents and organizations.
The problem? Opponents say the concerts would only add more traffic, noise and parking problems to the otherwise quiet residential neighborhood.
“To me, it seems like the amendment is trying to turn a major concert venue into a residential neighbor, a neighborhood with limited parking,” said Council Member Eleanor Revelle.
And some felt the city council gave in too quickly to Northwestern.
“We will remember this in the upcoming election and strategize to find representatives who perhaps better represent the needs and wants of the people of Evanston rather than those of a wealthy and powerful institution,” said Lesley Williams of Community Alliance for Better. » declared the government.
But supporters argue that commercial use would bring significant sums to tourism in Evanston, and that the university has also agreed to return millions to Evanston for future use.
“They’re making an annual contribution starting at three million and increasing every year for 15 years, which will allow us to not only invest in things like affordable housing and climate, but also shore up our budget,” Biss said.
For its part, Northwestern released a statement saying in part:
“We are embarking on a journey that promises not only a state-of-the-art stadium, but also a beacon of cultural and economic vitality.”
The nonprofit group Most Livable City Association released a statement saying it overwhelmingly rejects the decision and plans to join with other groups to file a legal challenge.
Northwestern will immediately apply for a permit and plans to be ready to play in the new stadium by 2026.