EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- Support is building for a plan to reconstruct Northwestern University's Ryan Field.
Some residents and local businesses believe a new world-class stadium in Evanston would bring new opportunities. However, not everyone agrees that a new stadium would be a community asset.
When it was first built in 1926, Northwestern's football stadium cost about $2.5 million. It got a $20 million renovation in 1996, raising the seating capacity to more than 47,000.
Now, plans for the proposed new stadium would reduce that seating capacity by about 15,000 and would cost about $800 million to build.
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"I'm excited about the potential impact, not just for Northwestern but for the community at large," said Clarence Weaver, an Evanston business owner.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, the university assembled a diverse group of community members in support of plans to build the new stadium. Many point to the school's commitment to insure 35% of the contracts go to local minority and women-owned businesses.
"The results of our poll shows that our project enjoys overwhelming support from the majority of the Evanston community," said Dave Davis, with Northwestern University.
But there are opponents as well. A number of neighbors living close to the stadium displayed signs against the project. Community groups have also gotten nearly a thousand signatures on a petition opposing a new Ryan Field.
"A lot of the community is shocked because it's come so fast and a lot are asking what's the rush? What's Northwestern's game," said David DeCarlo, with Most Livable City Association.
"My message to city council is, don't approve this project until we have substantive guarantees, particularly for the more disadvantaged residents in our community," said Kevin Brown, with Community Alliance for Better Government.
Northwestern still needs the Evanston City Council to approve the project before construction could begin. University officials are hopeful they can gain that approval by the end of the summer.