Ryan Field vote: Evanston City Council expected to vote Monday on controversial NU stadium plan

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Tuesday, November 21, 2023
Evanston City Council approves part of Ryan Field deal
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Evanston City Council is expected to vote Monday night on the controversial Ryan Field Northwestern football stadium plan.

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- The Evanston City Council is expected to vote Monday night on the controversial plan to rebuild Ryan Field.

Northwestern University wants to build a smaller stadium, and rezone the area for commercial use, like concerts.

Some have pushed back against the plan over traffic and noise concerns.

Northwestern is hoping to transform the nearly century-old stadium and rezone the area to pave the way for the venue to host up to six concerts and community-based events.

The privately funded proposal has been part of an ongoing debate among neighbors. It's been endorsed by the Evanston Chamber of Commerce.

Those against the rezoning say this will have a negative impact on their livelihoods.

Evanston's Land Use Commission previously voted unanimously to approve the development, but voted against the zoning amendment.

Last week, Council members pushed back the final vote to Monday's special meeting, with some members asking for more time to review Northwestern's latest Memorandum of Understanding with the city.

The university is now offering up $150 million in donations and tax returns over the course of 15 years.

That was an increase from $100 million over 10 years.

So far, the Council has voted to approve Northwestern's Memorandum of Understanding, including its public benefits agreement.

As of about 10:20 p.m., they still had not voted on the redevelopment nor rezoning of Ryan Field.

The Council spent hours debating the language in the Memorandum of Understanding and public benefits agreement.

"If Northwestern really wanted to be a partner to us, as I think they should want to be, they should be willing to extend this agreement for the life of the stadium, or agree to a sunset provision at the 15-year mark, so that we can reassess," 3rd Ward Councilmember Melissa Wynne said.

If the council approves the proposal, the university will be able to start construction, which is expected to be complete by 2026.