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  1. NU has been planning the rebuilding of the Ryan Field rebuild for a while. It was disingenuous for NU to tell the public it was “considering” hosting a limited number of concerts each year, then, just weeks later say it MUST offer these concerts for their new stadium to be viable. Then, just weeks later submit its application for a zoning amendment that contains not only concerts of up to “maximum capacity”, but also unlimited events including musical performances of up to 10,000, which is 3,000 more than Welsh-Ryan Arena holds. They also added in their application the right to let vehicles be permitted to idle throughout. Current zoning protects us from this. That would mean huge trucks and equipment used for bringing in, setting up, and taking down concert stages would run for hours on end, polluting the air, pollution that will be ongoing all summer since there would be new concerts at least every week with many performers bringing in their own stages and sound equipment. This is why NU cannot be trusted to be forthcoming and honest with the public. It is not unwise to look at the past and see how NU has historically misled the public regarding its intentions with its athletic property. It has continued to mislead.

  2. Thank you for sharing your views, Lisa. I would add the following:

    1. It’s false that without changing the zoning code, Ryan Field will sit unused except for six to seven football games per year. Setting aside that the number of home games will soon increase with the size of the Big 10, the existing zoning code permits all kinds of other events, including the following: elementary, high school, and amateur sporting events and non-profit community and cultural events. Also, how could more frequent use be better for the environment?

    2. If the Field of Opportunities group “expect[s] Northwestern to be transparent and honest with their intentions,” why isn’t it pushing NU to make public the CSL materials that Tripp Umbach relied on? What about a full report of the questions and responses from NU’s opinion poll? Why not post the redline of the proposed zoning changes to their website, which illustrates the protections NU is seeking to scrap?

  3. Thank you, Ms. Taylor – excellent points on the many serious problems posed by Northwestern’s plan. A proposal of this magnitude – one that would upend life in a sizable portion of the city and create significant economic, noise, environmental and traffic problems, possibly beyond Evanston’s borders – requires genuine community engagement, transparency, and thoughtful study, not a hurried plan hatched in secrecy. And institutions with $16 billion endowments that don’t pay property taxes should not get carte blanche to rewrite our zoning laws.

  4. To answer your question Lisa: I live 2 blocks south of the stadium and welcome a limited number of events and concerts. I don’t believe they will negatively impact our neighborhood ; I think they add vitality to our city and grow our businesses. I also have faith in in our mayor and city manager to negotiate and collaborate with NU so that all voices are heard before any decisions are finalized.

    1. Hello Kelly,
      Thank you for taking thr time to respond. Please note that it is not a limited number of concerts – NU is asking for unlimited concerts for up to 10,000 people. That will result in a very heavy and continual load on the neighborhood.

  5. Dear Editors,

    We live on Eastwood Ave., which borders the West Lot of the stadium. We’ve been here for eight years and have always appreciated and enjoyed the lively atmosphere of football game days. We hear the PA, the cheers, the fireworks and all-day tailgating, and have never found it annoying or disruptive. People returning to their cars after games appear sober. We’ve not experienced violence or theft on gamedays.

    We understand concerns about re-zoning and recognize the fairness issue around not paying taxes on revenue-generating property. And we have to solve for gridlock traffic in the hours before and after events. But we believe it’s doable. There has to be a way forward that is mutually beneficial and not reliant on promises, since university leadership changes over time.

    Ultimately we believe that a rising tide floats all boats, so we want to see NU be as prominent, successful and sought-after as possible. We believe that with collective positive intent and a focus on mutual benefit, we’ll continue to love the neighborhood we live in for many years to come.

    Lara Hamann

  6. I’m wondering why anyone would ask folks who have only lived in the neighborhood for 3 years about past stadium projects. I’ve lived 2 blocks from the stadium for 19 years and I support this project. Are there some kinks to work out? Sure – but I wouldn’t trust those who are new to the neighborhood to be the experts on the subject.

    1. Hello Debi,
      Thank you for taking thr time to respond. Please note that I am a thirty-year resident of this neighborhood, so my opinion is based on decades of experience here. If you extend the problems with current stadium events to daily experiences, it becomes even more of a problem, which goes beyond a few kinks to solve.

  7. Lisa Taylor,
    I agree with your points, and I don’t live near the stadium neighborhood. But if I did, I too would be concerned about traffic, concerts, alcohol availability, litter, and noise beyond football games. All resident opinion surveys should be restricted to those living in the stadium neighborhood, not realtors, businesses, or Evanston residents not immediately affected.

  8. What is so striking about this opinion piece is its view of the past. It cites examples of the University’s failures to honor agreements. It mentions the names of people who have experienced this in the past and who project forward from their own personal experience, casting a darkness onto the University and bringing forward past grievances.

    What is lacking is a spirit of cooperation and partnership with the University that will move all of Evanston forward. Why choose to harp on past failures when a future of opportunities is right in front of you?

    Without the new stadium, do those old-timers believe they will finally win the day? That would be unlikely.

    It’s time to start anew with fresh voices, new ideas and possibilities, and a focus on the future, not the past. Cooperation and partnership is the way towards a win-win relationship.

    1. Hello Robert,
      Thank you for taking the time to respond. There is always a need for cooperation between a large university and the hosting city, but NU has historically taken advantage of this city. Your response is a good sentiment, but it needs more than good will and misplaced trust to make it work.

  9. The idea that our neighborhood is unlivable on game days is a ridiculous scare tactic. Your broad statements that imply all neighbors are opposed to this is a gross misconception .

    I live in the neighborhood near Ryan Field. I will likely be inconvenienced from time to time yet I support this redevelopment, including concerts, because of the overall benefits it will offer to ALL of Evanston.
    This not in my backyard attitude is not helpful. It’s okay to have fun in Evanston. A possible Christmas market is not the end of the world. These community events actually will add to the experience!

    1. Dr. Ghate, not everyone in the neighborhood has large double lots and ample parking so it’s possible that your experience does not adequately reflect the average stadium neighbor. Noone is questioning a winter market – that is something NU can do under current zoning. But 10 mega concerts and unlimited inside and outside events at 10,000 people is a major change to the neighborhood. Diminishing residents’ real concerns about traffic, parking, and hospital accessibility is unneighborly at best.