Evanston Approves New Ryan Field Stadium Plans

New exterior design of Ryan Field by HNTB

The City of Evanston has approved the new Ryan Field stadium at 1505 Central Street in Evanston. Located on the intersection with Ashland Avenue, the new building will rebuild the existing bowl-style stadium owned and used by Northwestern University. The work is being led by the university itself with Kansas City-based architects HNTB as well as Perkins & Wills serving as the designers.

New massing of Ryan Field laid against the existing (black outline) by HNTB

Built in 1926 but thoroughly renovated in 1996, the stadium can hold around 47,000 guests though it isn’t often fully filled for its Northwestern Wildcats games. Currently it’s not only one of the smallest venues for a Big Ten team, but also the only Division I stadium without permanent lighting which limits game times frequently. Due to all of this the university announced its plans to demolish most of it for a new facility late last year.

New interior design of Ryan Field by HNTB

However this was met with a lot of community pushback, mainly the university’s plan to rezone the site to allow for concerts as well. Multiple organizations loudly opposed the plans due to concerns with increased traffic, noise, and crowding issues, with the Evanston Land Use Commission voting against the plans just a few weeks ago. But now the mayor casted the decisive vote to approve the rezoning this week.

New interior design of Ryan Field by HNTB

The new stadium would have an overall smaller massing to better blend with the surrounding neighborhood, with a decreased capacity of around 35,000 people. The fully accessible building would solve many of the current issues with a large canopy over the seats, lighting, new amenities, added landscaping and plazas on the outside for noise mitigation and more. The new structure would be mostly clad in stone with metal accents.

New exterior design of Ryan Field by HNTB

Part of the approval included limits on the concerts, with only six-allowed per year, as well as a pledge from Northwestern to donate $100 million to the community over the next 10-years. With a budget of nearly $800 million, the project would be completely privately funded via multiple large alumni gifts. It is worth noting the university has stated that none of the work will cause an increase in tuition cost nor cut salaries.

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11 Comments on "Evanston Approves New Ryan Field Stadium Plans"

  1. So the project budget is $800,000 to rebuild an entire stadium (talk about the most cost effective project in human history!) and they are REDUCING capacity? So much of this makes no sense!

    Why would anyone spend money to shrink a stadium?

  2. Why not build Disney Land in Evanston….no personality, no character….just another stupid
    graphic design, not architecture

  3. Evanston is going to be very sorry that it allowed any concerts. They will disturb the entire town, and will not stop at six.

  4. Glad to see they went with the best. Kansas City is the world hub of sports architecture

  5. Robert Orenstein | November 24, 2023 at 2:26 pm | Reply

    The Community Benefits Agreement was enhanced significantly, to $157 million over 15 years. A smaller stadium puts less pressure on municipal parking garages which are 1.5 miles away. Concerts are limited to six, with max capacity of 28,500. The stadium costs the city zero dollars and will generate sales taxes, alcohol taxes, entertainment taxes and parking fees, with the University guaranteeing $2.5 million annually to the city.

  6. If Highland Park can be highly desirable with Ravinia, I’m sure Evanston will survive a few concerts a year.

  7. This is so long overdue. The renovation in 1996 was a huge upgrade but that was 27 years ago. A first class venue, appropriately sized for the Northwestern faithful, will be a shiny new gem for the city of Evanston. There is no down-side to this deal – everyone makes money and everyone wins.

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