Northwestern unveils plans for sleek Ryan Field redesign

By Ethan Segall

Northwestern University announced its plans for a new Ryan Field on Wednesday. The new stadium, which is projected to open in fall 2026, would replace the long-standing 97-year-old football stadium housed in Evanston. The $800 million, privately-funded project would host the Wildcat football team, which has appeared in two of the past four Big Ten Championship games, along with concerts and other entertainment events.

The polished and modern reimagination of the venue would decrease the maximum capacity from 47,000 fans to 35,000, add more comfortable seating, and implement advanced technology, including a canopy to deflect noise and light onto the field and new scoreboards. This will create a more raucous and intimate gameday atmosphere for Chicago’s Big Ten team. Additionally, the design includes accessible features to make the stadium inclusive for all Northwestern fans.

Although the City of Evanston still must approve the project, Northwestern seeks to begin its teardown of Ryan Field after the 2023 season. No announcement has been made yet on where the ‘Cats will play their home games while the new stadium is under construction.. Upon return to Evanston, students will get to cheer on the Wildcats from a remodeled student section and feast on upgraded concessions that should feature some of the best food Evanston has to offer.

The Ryan Family’s $480 million gift in Sept. 2021, the largest in Northwestern history, will provide another state-of-the-art athletic facility, alongside the Welsh-Ryan Arena and Ryan Fieldhouse, making Northwestern one of premier destinations for college athletes. Northwestern has already seen a recent uptick in recruiting; NU Football boasts the 24th-ranked 2023 recruiting class, above programs such as Michigan, Auburn and Wisconsin. The new stadium should only further these efforts and make Evanston more attractive for any college football hopefuls. 

For a Northwestern Football program that trudged through a disappointing September, Wednesday’s exciting news was the perfect jolt to reinvigorate fans for the future of the Wildcats.

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