Ryan Field

I live near Ryan Field and I believe from personal experience that these proposed changes to the stadium will have a profoundly negative impact on the quality of life of the neighbors living nearby.

My own experience includes an evening when my daughter and I were walking our dog during an evening game. We encountered glass shards on the sidewalk from broken glass bottles and beer cans strewn about the front yards. I have the photos I took of this. We also encountered a young man urinating in my neighbor’s driveway. I was also approached by another man who was visibly drunk and who tried to have a very inappropriate conversation with me.

Many of my neighbors who live near the stadium see this new venue as harmful to their quality of life on the nights these events take place, which will, if we are talking about outdoor concerts, most likely end up being many of our summer weekend evenings.

The traffic congestion for these current 7 home games is awful. If these changes take place, evening traffic that includes people who have been drinking at the stadium will make our neighborhood streets less safe.

A rendering shows the interior of the proposed new Ryan field, including a canopy that Northwestern University says will reduce noise and light pollution. Credit: Northwestern University

When we moved here, we understood there would be 7 home games a year including only 1 or 2 at night. We did not know NU would try to change the stadium into a venue for evening concerts and other events serving alcohol at night.

NU’s football stadium is unique in that it is completely surrounded by residential neighborhoods, unlike the stadiums at most other universities in the U.S. Changing the purpose of the stadium would be unfair to those of us who purchased homes here knowing that the stadium was zoned for a specific purpose only.

Debbie Thiersch

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  1. I agree with all the points made here. If Northwestern can’t fund the project without the additional events (outside of athletics), then the project shouldn’t be considered feasible. The outside events will be detrimental to the neighborhood and will further weaken an already-tenuous NU-Evanston relationship.

  2. It’s not just a “Not in My Backyard issue”. Northwestern’s field of schemes will impact all of Evanston if it’s allowed to turn Ryan into a big university profit center and compete with tax-paying Evanston businesses. The university does not pay its fair share to Evanston! Our taxes go through the roof while the university frets about the new field’s “viability” despite it’s nearly $15 billion endowment and $83.4 million budget surplus (reported in 2021). Show us your business plan NU! Hold the university accountable Evanston!

  3. I too am a Wilmette neighbor who is vehemently opposed to this entertainment venue. It’s unnecessary and undermines the mission of Northwestern. University leadership has made a colossal error in judgment here. No-one ever has called for a privately-funded, outdoor concert and party venue on NU land. Pat Ryan’s $500 million “gift” is driving all of this. It’s time neighbors and politicians join together to force NU to abandon this ill-conceived idea before it’s too late. Besides, there’s an awful lot of good that can be done towards education with Ryan’s money. And that would align with Northwestern’s historic and, up until now, proud record of educational excellence.

  4. We heartily endorse all the points she reports. We’re concerned about liquor bottles on our lawns, reports of inebriated people urinating on our lawns, and noise long after the events are over. Traffic chaos is another serious problem. After the recent Northwestern-Illinois game, dinner guests were unable to reach our house because of total gridlock more than an hour after the game. A few years ago, we encountered a doctor stuck in gridlock as she attempted to read Evanston Hospital to deliver a baby.
    This whole project is a disaster. If NU complains they can’t afford build this stadium without holding commercial events, there’s a simple response: Refurbish the existing stadium and don’t schedule commercial events.