Home News Evanston Land Use Commission Expresses Opposition to Ryan Field Concerts; Final Decision Rests with City Council

Evanston Land Use Commission Expresses Opposition to Ryan Field Concerts; Final Decision Rests with City Council

Evanston Land Use Commission Expresses Opposition to Ryan Field Concerts; Final Decision Rests with City Council

Northwestern University’s proposal so as to add live shows to a renovated Ryan Field hit a roadblock Wednesday night when Evanston’s Land Use Commission gave the plan a negative suggestion.

It took some time — about 15 hours spread across three meetings — but land use commissioners finally got to vote Oct. 11. Commissioners unanimously backed the Ryan Field rebuild but were 7-2 against rezoning that will allow for as much as six live shows per 12 months on the stadium about two blocks south of Wilmette’s border.

In the course of the meeting NU’s Dale Davis, the college’s executive director of neighborhood and community relations, said Northwestern won’t move forward with a stadium rebuild without live shows being a component of it.

“The stadium project that we propose is inextricably linked to the approval of a text amendment that allows a limited variety of live shows,” Davis said. “This project cannot and won’t move forward without this approval.”

The Land Use decision is a setback for NU nevertheless it doesn’t doom the project. The Evanston City Council will make the ultimate determination on the proposal nevertheless it isn’t clear when the measure may find space on the council’s agenda.

The Wilmette Village Board on Aug. 8 voted to formally oppose live shows at a rebuilt Ryan Field, and Village officials delivered its opposition in writing and in person during City of Evanston proceedings.

The original plan for Ryan Field was to construct a brand new “world-class” venue that will host a limited variety of live shows within the 35,000-person stadium. NU later announced that number was 10, and in its zoning application to the City of Evanston, it hoped to remove any restriction on the amount of large-scale events it could hold.

Amid backlash from Wilmette in addition to loads of Evanston residents and groups, a letter from NU President Michael Schill on Aug. 17 announced that the college was amending its zoning application to request six live shows per 12 months. Schill wrote that the university can also be not asking for text to permit for unlimited 10,000-person events.

Other changes included: the reduction of “community-based” events to 60 per 12 months; and a rise in contributions to the Evanston community, similar to a $2 million revenue guarantee to the City and a ticket surcharge that will profit Evanston Public Schools.

The grassroots organization Most Livable City Association celebrated the Land Use Commission’s decision, releasing this statement following Wednesday’s meeting:

“We’re pleased the Land Use Commission rejected Northwestern’s plan to impose radical change on residential neighborhoods. When questioned last night by commissioners, University officials struggled to articulate why the cash-flush school needs to show Ryan Field and its other athletic facilities right into a industrial entertainment complex. The commissioners correctly recognized this — in addition to the prices it will impose on the community — and voted the proposal down.”

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