Northwestern releases renderings for proposed football stadium

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Northwestern’s Board of Trustees has approved initial plans for a brand new football stadium, which will be privately-financed and will feature a slew of amenities for both fans and the general public.

According to a press release Wednesday, the board approved plans for the new 35,000 seat stadium, which would feature multiple seating levels, a canopy over the seating area, and numerous other future-leaning designs.

According to Crain’s Chicago Business, the plan would require the demolition of Ryan Field, and the new stadium would be constructed on the site, with a targeted opening date of 2026.

In all, the project could cost an estimated $800 million, per Crain's.

“We are extremely excited to move forward with a transformational stadium project and grateful for our university leadership and to the board of trustees for their decision to take the next steps toward a new Ryan Field,” Dr. Derrick Gragg, VP of athletics and recreation at the school, said in a statement.

The stadium project got a significant push in Sept. 2021 when the family of Patrick and Shirley Ryan made a $480 million donation to the university. While some of the money was earmarked for research and educational initiatives, the funding was also meant to go toward the construction of a new stadium, which will still be called Ryan Field.

According to the university’s website, the stadium would have a capacity of 35,000, far lower than the current 47,000 that the stadium can hold.

School officials say the reduction in size was deliberate, so that fans could sit closer to the field and so that congestion, light and noise pollution would be reduced in the area around the stadium.

New ride-share and public transportation plans are also part of the proposal, with free bike valets also employed in the design.

Officials say that the seating area would feature seatbacks for all levels of the stadium, and a canopy would both protect fans from the elements and keep light and noise inside the building.

The proposed structure would also be Gold LEED certified for sustainability purposes, and would be designed to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, making it one of the “most accessible stadiums in the country,” according to officials.

Officials with the school say that they would also seek to hold a limited number of concerts at the venue, generating up to $35 million in revenue for the city in the first decade after opening. The project itself would generate up to $600 million in indirect development for the city, and would create up to 2,900 jobs.

Greenspace outside of the stadium would be open throughout the year to the general public, and designated tailgating areas would also be implemented to help with gameday traffic and congestion.

The plan still needs to be approved by Evanston officials, and there is no timetable for that decision to be made.

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