Northwestern set to play football games at new temporary stadium on campus during Ryan Field rebuild

Thursday, April 11, 2024
NU set to play football games at new temporary stadium on campus
The Northwestern Wildcats football team will play next season at a temporary stadium on the lakefront while Ryan Field gets rebuilt.

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- College football season is still months away, but Northwestern officials released more details Thursday about where the Wildcats will play football the next couple years.

University officials are excited about the Wildcats staying home during football season.

Wildcat football players also showed their excitement.

"The first thing I thought of is how comfortable the team will be because we practice out there everyday," Northwestern football player Bryce Kirtz said. "I feel like that'll be an advantage for us."

Northwestern athletics officials Thursday morning laid out plans for the temporary future of Wildcat football while construction on the new Ryan Field is completed.

"I think it really creates a unique opportunity for us as a university to create an atmosphere and an environment on campus that will be remembered for a long, long time," Northwestern head coach David Braun said.

The university says the Cats will play for the next two seasons at the Martin Athletics Facility located on-campus right by the lake.

"I'm excited to see what our fans and students create on the lakefront in a small capacity right on top of you," Braun said.

Football games bring lots of customers to places around campus, like Mustard's Last Stand. They've been serving up hot dogs to northwestern fans for more than fifty years right across the parking lot from the stadium. And with the team still playing close by, they hope the tradition will continue.

"Hopefully they'll stop by, get a hot dog, and go to the game," said Lonnie Starkman with Mustard's Last Stand.

Northwestern has not said which games or how many will be played here. The school has seven home games on the schedule next season, including Big Ten games against schools like Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio State.

A temporary structure will be built on-site, but officials say fan capacity will still be considerably less than what Ryan Field could hold.

Nonetheless, players say they are optimistic about their chances on the gridiron.

"I definitely thought about the weather," Kirtz said. "That will definitely be a factor, but I feel like we'll definitely be prepared because like I said we practice out there everyday."

Northwestern says it's still in talks with other Chicago-area venues that could also host some games this season. The venues include Wrigley field, where they have played numerous games, such as a game last year against Iowa. Also, they have talked to officials from Soldier Field, and there are even there are reports the team could host a game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. However, the majority of games will be on campus.

The new plans come as demolition on Ryan Field continue with the all-privately funded stadium expected to be finished in 2026.