Spotlight on Evanston


See Indexes at the head of each page for more information.  The Search bar below may not return all expected results.

This site has been created to inform Evanston residents about town and gown issues that keep arising, principally from Northwestern University's athletic facilities in the 7th Ward.

Though these issues appear to a less informed person to affect only the closest wards, the 7th and the 6th, in fact, Northwestern University's actions do affect the entire City.

Spotlight on Evanston presents historical and legal documents, transcripts of City meetings, communications, media posts, and published articles that show the danger of establishing a legal precedent  in the Evanston zoning code.

Such precedent can be used to claim further ordinance changes and if those are opposed by the city, NU will have legal grounds to sue, a cost in terms of dollars and time that the City should be very familiar with by now, if only Evanston chooses not to forget the past.

Spotlight wants to contribute to keeping that memory ever-present, as protection to all who live in Evanston.   


The stadium demolition is slated to start end of January, 2024 one week away that is. However, on January 18th, during Aldermember Revelle's Zoom meeting, Dave Davis and other panel “members” were unwilling or unable able to answer pertinent residents’ questions.

These questions included topics as: polluted dust and water; sewer water diversion to the Canal issue, and if the residents then too would be allowed to reconnect their downspouts to the sewer system; vibrations and compensation to damage caused to properties; truck traffic damage to the Central Street bridge; parking violations and lack of parking restrictions signage; safety of children at the Ashland Street crossing; noise generated by truck traffic and crews setting up before 7am; etc.

The answers were for the greater part only platitudes.

1."Feel free to call 311”. In fact, the 311 center is closed on Saturdays, one of the weekly days of an estimated four-month long demolition. Why, again, is it up to homeowners to take up the burden of policing violations that will occur again because of NU’s U2 District activities?

2. “We’ll get back to you”. When? After the demolition has already begun?

3. “We will report monthly on vibrations”. But construction is six days a week, hours on-end, and there is no outside agency monitoring NU’s excavation and “reporting” accuracy. And similarly, NU plans on self-reporting any native material during demolition (and construction). No outside agency oversees the crew.

4. “We suggest you hire an engineer or contractor to document the state of your home’s structural integrity in case problems develop later”. I brought up the issue of cracks to foundations and walls caused by the Field’s rebuild process and the issue of inspections payments at the October 2023 LUC meeting. I also officially submitted into the City record for the Nov 16 Council meeting a statement addressing the issue again and a request for NU to pay for such structural inspections. At the Zoom meeting  the issue was brought up again by residents.  NU then suggested we hire an inspector, and thus indirectly admitted the chance of structural damage to residences. NU did not offer to help residents with the inspection costs however.  It was suggested that the City would issue a statement regarding the need for us to hire an inspector, but neither NU nor the City has yet officially published such a recommendation.

5. “We are still developing these plans”. That is what we have heard during all the City’s deliberations. We still are hearing these delay tactics now.

6. “We are taking this very seriously”. This sentence is one of Dave Davis’ favorite mantras, together with “we have been in contact with”; “there are on-going negotiations with”.

7. “We’ll have more information”. Manana, that is.

8. “The City will take note, we may address this, soon” [paraphrased reactions by the City official]. Construction starts next week. Why didn’t the City authorities have the wits and responsibility to demand that NU clarify such important issues before construction was approved, and before residents again, raised them at the Zoom meeting?

8. “We should be doing...” That is equivalent to: “We intend to”, a familiar sentence in a familiar repertoire that residents have heard throughout the years from Dave Davis and other NU officials.

Please, do tell us, admit exactly what you are doing, not what you “intend”. There is an appropriate proverb regarding good intentions.

Residents wanted answers ahead of time. They did not get them. The City did not see fit to get the answers before voting on this ill-fated project, and before knowing exactly what NU’s demolition (and all the rest that is coming after this) is going to cause in terms of detrimental consequences to the environment, traffic, public safety, noise, residents’ properties and our health.


Re. Northwestern's stadium development proposal & text amendment proposal

Above: Dianne Thodos' depiction of the state of current affairs. 

Below: "John Lakeman" depicts the representation of the proposed stadium and zoning changes.

  2023 INDEX (on the Home page: 6/27/2023 Eleanor Revelle -NU Ryan Field Community meeting - video transcript)

For 2023 communications see under Communications

Concomitant issues:

For the 3-part transcription of the 9/6/23  LUC meeting, see

2023 Land Use Commisssion  

Prior to the August 18/23 announcement re. LUC's first hearing about NU's proposals, NU President Michael Schill published a letter saying the university is willing to modify its proposals, but maintaining its insistence on commercial rezoning

 MLCA responded with the following statement:

“Northwestern knows it is losing the battle of public opinion. So, they sprung this updated proposal less than a week before the Land Use Commission hearing with their characteristic stealth. Still seeking a radical zoning change, and failing to address environmental, financial, and labor concerns with the stadium rebuild, this ‘offer’ is nothing but a fig leaf in NU’s quest to remake entire neighborhoods and disrupt life in Evanston and beyond.”

Is it just Ryan?

During his seven years as president of OU, Schill grappled with student protests, racial issues, Title IX violations and faculty and graduate worker contract negotiation.

The logistics of moving a university forward can take many forms.

Smerek, associate professor and associate director in SESP says, some college presidents’ view can be “external…and focus more heavily on fundraising and image-building”.

Under Schill renovations began on UO’s historic Hayward Field, that hosted the 2022 World Athletics Championships. UO’s public funding campaign surpassed its $3 billion goal, and Schill nearly doubled UO’s endowment.

Smerek says that large fundraising projects can be “signature wins” for presidents looking to leave a physical legacy at their universities.

But complaints ensued with Schill’s administration and increased focus on donations: millions of dollars to renovate and staff Hayward Field, while UO’s Multicultural Center lacked the necessary funds and staff to be a key resource for 23,000 students.

In 2017 triple digit temperatures in math professor Sinclair UO campus office shattered his new glass whiteboard. He described UO’s 1.4 billion endowment as going towards “white elephants”, bank-rolled large vanity projects that highlight existing asymmetries on campus.

In 2020, to recoup $100 million in funding, Schill demanded faculty salary cuts, or instead, cancel health insurance for 211 full-time staff in order to recoup $100 million in funding. $45 million in Covid federal funding did stop the cuts.

To Schill’s racial attitude:

In 2015, black students called for the renaming of Deady Hall, named for Oregon-native federal judge Matthew Deady who endorsed extreme anti-black discrimination in the 1800s. Schill’s responded that Deady had important political contributions that outweighed the severity of his racist views.

Schill also condemned antiracists student activists for destroying UO’s pioneer statue.

See the full article at:

NU's past needs to address the present

An entire Potawatomi village stood where North Shore Hospital is, and several native burial grounds laid in land where current NU buildings stand, including Deering library. NU, after displaying in a lot next to Dyche Stadium the 30-foot section of the giant cottonwood tree sacred to the Potawatomi, unceremoniously disposed of it to build their east parking lot.  Therefore, in view of NU’s past derelict actions towards native remains and sacred objects, I respectfully ask the Land Use Commission to recommend that NU submit to an Archeological oversite, one that follows closely NHPA’s Section 106 standards, and this oversite should occur during the proposed stadium’s demolition and early construction period. While the stadium project will not use Federal funds, Northwestern University, as an institution is a recipient of Federal Funds.

Sources:  Evanston Its land and its people

8/14/2023 City documents re. NU's proposals & pertaining correspondence: 

2023 NU Zoning Proposals November 2022 - August 2023 

The City of Evanston site where these documents are listed: 

6/27/2023 Eleanor Revelle -NU Ryan Field Community meeting.

See video transcript below

6.27.23 NU-Revelle community meeting final transcript.pdf

NU provided more information or in fact, lack of information at the 8/31/2023 NU-City Committee. For a transcript see:

 2023 Consent Decree: NU/Evanston Committee 

 8/8/2023,  Mike Vasilko sends documentation to the Land Use Commission to substantiate his argument against LUC* action [Land Use Commission]

 The Northwestern University Charter is Illinois State Law.  For-profit, non-educational uses are not permitted.

Document below: 

LUC August 9, 2023 Agenda Item - Northwestern University Ryan Field Zoning Change - Vasilko Argument Against LUC Action 7-16-2023.pdf

8/9/2023  7th Ward Eleanor Revelle

NU Zoning Proposal ‘does not meet’ city standards'  Evanston City Code 6-3-4-5 


Revelle defined the NU proposed stadium parking plan as "unrealistic and inadequate" since concert attendees would need "100-plus shuttle runs" to reach the Ryan Field and "200-plus shuttle runs" to return to their cars in downtown & campus garages. Football games on the other hand,  use "25-35 shuttles".

Let's remember what she said in October 2019 when the City was debating NU Welsh Ryan Arena  commercial concerts proposal:

“These residents bought their homes with the understanding that the athletic campus was used for collegiate sports and commencement events...They did not bargain for an additional set of major events attracting a non-collegiate audience with unknown regard for NU and its neighbors.”

1st Ward Clare Kelly

“I stand by my opposition to the NU stadium proposal as it currently stands, I have deep concerns regarding the proposed commercial concert venue and the corresponding special use application.”

3/6/2023 6th Ward Thomas Suffredin

"The current Ryan Field proposal is deficient. It asks too much of Evanstonians and leaves too many questions unanswered... Northwestern’s claim that the Ryan Field plan entails no public costs reeks of dishonesty. The costs would be considerable – and Evanstonians would bear them. They include lost revenue for Central Street retailers, noise from stadium concerts, traffic congestion, lack of parking for residents, and the potential decline of property values near the new arena."  

6/1/2023  3rd Ward  Melissa Wynne

“I can just say right now that I don’t support 10 concerts a year... And I don’t think that makes for a livable Evanston." She expressed concerns about noise citing as an example Dillo Day issues. She raised concerns about  "a lot of new concrete", and inadequate parking immediately outside the stadium. She expressed doubt about NU's actual ability to book acts in view of  the United Center or Rosemont, venues that have "acres of parking around them"

9th Ward Juan Geracaris

At the League’s Ninth Ward forum, Geracaris said because of his job with the University, he will recuse himself from participating in the issue when it comes before the council.

Mayor Biss: Likely to be the deciding vote on the Council. 

His silence on the issue is deafening.

Below: Proposed Use Text Amendment submitted by NU to the City in Spring 2023 (Red Line version)

See the new proposal submitted 8/14/2023

2023 NU Zoning Proposals November 2022 - August 2023 

RF Redline Version Proposal printed.pdf

Below: Zoning Application submitted by Northwestern University in 2022

Zoning Applic 11.14.22.pdf

The proposed stadium will be 116 feet tall—more than twice the 48-foot height of most sections of the present stadium. The single- and multi-family residential buildings surrounding the U2 zone are only up to 35-40 feet in height. While the seating capacity of the proposed stadium will be lower, the overall mass of the proposed stadium will be significantly larger.

Below: Screen shot of pp. 5 -6 of the above zoning application. The screen shot shows the existing structure square foot areas vs the proposed structure square foot areas

Below:  June 2023 NU's Statement of Compliance outlining why it should be exempt from the parking requirement and from the 35' landscape  buffer zone requirement

RF Statements of Compliance printed.pdf

Below: 7/31/2023 City's response (draft) re. Planned Development Application-Revised Plan Review


Proposal: Demolish existing Ryan Field stadium and construct a new stadium with approximately 35,000 seats

The City of Evanston hired  Interwest (a division of SAFEbuilt) to  review of the  sound & traffic impact studies provided originally by NU. See the Interwest review on pp.17-21 of the document provided below.

DRAFT -Ryan Field- Staff Review Letter - 7.19.23.pdf

Below: July 12, 2023 email sent by Michae Braiman (Wilmette Village Manager) to Luke Stowe (Evanston City Manager) re. NU zoning proposl  (This letter is also part of the document above)

July 12, 2023 Wilmette letter to Luke Stowe.pdf

In view of the scant acoustical  Interwest review , a group of Wilmette residents have collectively hired on their own the acoustics consultant Arup,  to complete a sound study

8/8/2023: Wilmette Village unanimously approves a resolution objecting to Evanston’s zoning changes allowing outdoor concerts at Ryan Field.

Setting Up a Concert - Breaking it Down

Michael Goody, operations executive at CAA Icon explained: [NU-Community meeting (6/27/2023) see video transcript further above]:

[For a hypothetical Saturday  concert] Imagine there are 10-12 tractor trailers, 53-foot trailer semis ... just to give you some timeline, that typically will occur the day before a show ... It takes about 20 hours for that entirety of those trucks to be delivered, assembled, prepared, secured, tested, and ready to use, sometimes on Friday afternoon, when there is a sound check ...

11 to 12 [pm on Saturday]...we're just wrapping up. It's you know the hour, hour and a half after the show, people are kind of exiting, getting the last shuttle busses, people are making their way back to their off-site parking locations, and heading out.

Upon their departures the out [break-down] normally happens something less than 20 hours, about 18, 15 hours, is what you'll see all that equipment leave, and it leaves in complete reverse order that it went in.

Thus, Mr. Goody states that the set-up (day before a concert), and the break-down (day after a concert), cumulatively add up to 38 hours!

However watch below the video and see how long a set-up could take.

Rammstein - Europe Stadium Tour youtube 2½ minute time-lapse video 

Seven-day load-in and set-up for a rock concert at a comparably sized stadium in Dresden.