Home Community Rebuilding Exchange in Evanston offers Wildcats fans a piece of Ryan Field

Rebuilding Exchange in Evanston offers Wildcats fans a piece of Ryan Field

Rebuilding Exchange in Evanston offers Wildcats fans a piece of Ryan Field

(Editor’s Note: This story was reported by Ann Hiatt and originally published by the Evanston Roundtable, a neighboring independent newsroom. It was shared with The Record as a part of an ongoing collaborative effort.)

As demolition of Ryan Field continued last week, some stadium memorabilia faced a happier fate. After spending an intense week deconstructing and transporting pieces of the stadium back to their warehouse, Evanston’s Rebuilding Exchange opened its sale of salvaged seats, signs, helmets, and a wide range of other paraphernalia on Friday morning.

The community’s interest caught the staff working the primary day of the Ryan Field sale by surprise. They were “wholly unprepared” for the flood of orders, said store manager Alexia Windsor – but in a superb way. Greater than 10 people lined up to purchase items as soon as the shop opened at 10 a.m. By just after noon, greater than 100 online orders and 22 in-person sales had raised a record amount for the nonprofit. Signs were selling especially fast, and the staff were moving quickly to connect “sold” labels on items that had been claimed online.

“All of the meetings, calls, and extra work paid off in the primary two hours,” said Zach Share, Rebuilding Exchange’s marketing manager. For the scrappy nonprofit, this money influx is a giant deal and goes a great distance toward helping the organization achieve its stated mission: “to maintain materials out of landfills, train and support an inclusive workforce within the constructing trades and use our two Chicagoland stores to surprise and encourage customers with ever-changing inventory and inventive workshops.”

Rebuilding Exchange store manager Alexia Windsor said they were “wholly unprepared” for the flood of orders, but in a superb way.

The sale is an element of a wider agreement hammered out last 12 months with Northwestern University. In September, the university committed to investing $200,000 within the Rebuilding Exchange “to assist recruit more Evanston residents into workforce training programs — expanding access to certification programs, profession exposure, and job placement services to more Evanston residents.”

In late November, the City Council voted to permit the brand new stadium project and rezoning to proceed. Within the ordinance granting a special use for the planned development, Northwestern pledged to prioritize working with minority and women-owned businesses and businesses based in Evanston for contracting and design services, specifically citing Rebuilding Exchange. Three months later, in mid-February, demolition began.

For Rebuilding Exchange, this primary phase of the project has offered “a deconstruction learning opportunity for our transitional employment crew,” based on the nonprofit’s Ryan Field sale announcement.

Northwestern graduate Hannah Russell heard in regards to the sale from an alumni network, which emailed the day before inviting former students to “come own a bit” of Ryan Field. Russell, who’d been a part of Northwestern’s marching band and performed on Ryan Field, had her heart set on an indication. Most of those on display were out of her price range or had already been sold to internet buyers. Share, Rebuilding Exchange’s marketing manager, disappeared and Russell pulled out her phone to scan the inventory. A couple of minutes later, he reappeared with an indication for section 128-129. At $150, it was just a little over her budget, but Russell and her mother hurried to the money register to pay before an internet shopper snagged it.

“We’re all the time excited for the chance to deconstruct and salvage materials,” Share said, adding that working with an area partner like Northwestern to save lots of materials from the landfill made this an especially rewarding project.

Inside the following couple of weeks, Rebuilding Exchange hopes to cost and post all items. They don’t have the flexibility to handle shipping along with the work of processing and pricing, so all items are pickup only. And continuing their collaboration, the nonprofit and Northwestern will co-host an information session about construction careers and work opportunities on the Ryan Field project from 6 to 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday, March 6.


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