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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Northwestern University’s Lakefront Athletics and Recreation Complex

What are Northwestern’s plans for athletics and recreation facilities?

In fall of 2012, Northwestern University announced plans to replace an existing athletic and recreation facility with a larger building that will provide an indoor multipurpose facility to be used for football practice, as well as other athletic team practices and competitions, recreational activities and non-sporting events. The University will submit a permit request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and work with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies to build Ryan Fieldhouse.

See story about Northwestern’s plan to file a permit to build the Lakefront Athletics and Recreation Complex.

This facility is a key component in the University’s continuing improvement of its athletic and recreation facilities on the Evanston campus. In fall of 2014, Northwestern opened a major expansion of the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion that included new fitness studios, a room with new weights and exercise equipment, and related facilities. The facility provides exercise and recreational space for students, faculty, staff and members of the community who join the sports and aquatics center. At the same time, the University opened a new sailing center on the south end of the Evanston campus, providing greatly improved facilities for students and local residents who are members of the Sailing Center.

The next improvement of athletics and recreation facilities will be renovation of the soccer/lacrosse and field hockey fields and construction of a new outdoor football practice field that will also be used for intramural and club sports. That work is slated to begin this spring.

Where will the new center be located?

Ryan Fieldhouse will be located adjacent to the existing Henry Crown Sports Pavilion/Norris Aquatics Center and Combe Tennis Center. It will replace an existing structure, which houses three basketball courts and a running track and a nearby outdoor parking lot.

The new outdoor football practice field will be located immediately south of the soccer/lacrosse field.

What will the new athletics and recreation complex include?

The project will include:

  • A full-sized indoor athletic field that will enable Northwestern’s varsity student-athletes to practice and compete indoors in inclement weather. Ryan Fieldhouse will also be used for campus events, such as Dance Marathon.
  • Portable seating for approximately 1,000 people with room for additional seats, so the facility can be used as a site for University convocations and other events.
  • Three basketball courts that will be used for intramural sports and recreational activities.
  • An indoor running track.
  • Locker rooms for varsity sports teams.
  • Sports performance areas with weights and exercise equipment.
  • Sports medicine facilities.
  • Renovation of the existing soccer/lacrosse and field hockey fields and construction of a new outdoor football practice field that would be used for varsity team practices, intramurals and other purposes.

What will the facilities be called?

The new fieldhouse will be named Ryan Fieldhouse in honor of the leadership generosity of alumni Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan. The field located inside the fieldhouse will be named Wilson Field in honor of support from alumni Stephen R. and Susan K. Wilson. The renovated soccer/lacrosse field will be named Lanny and Sharon Martin Stadium in honor of a campaign gift from alumnus J. Landis (Lanny) Martin and his wife, Sharon.

Northwestern also has received a leadership gift from alumni Mark and Kimbra Walter, providing significant support for Northwestern Athletics and Recreation. 

How will the facilities be funded?

All of the costs of the project will be funded through private donations to Northwestern and through University operating revenues.

What agencies will review the plans for the project?

Northwestern takes great pride in our stewardship of the natural environment. We will file a request for the permit with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and work with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies on review of the building. The University will collaborate with the appropriate federal, state and city agencies that will review the project to ensure that the new building meets all relevant regulatory requirements.

When will construction start?

Renovation of the soccer/lacrosse and field hockey fields and construction of the outdoor football practice field will begin this spring. Construction of Ryan Fieldhouse is expected to begin immediately after all necessary permits are obtained.

When will construction be completed?

The renovation of the playing fields and construction of the outdoor practice field is expected to be completed in spring 2016, with some portions done sooner. The construction timeline for Ryan Fieldhouse will be determined after permits have been approved.

How will Northwestern handle the intramural and recreational activities that occur in the existing gym space until the new building is completed?

Plans are being developed to use other recreation facilities on campus for intramurals and recreation.

Part of Ryan Fieldhouse will occupy some of the current parking lot on the northeast corner of campus. Where will the cars that are now parked there be able to park?

Northwestern last fall opened a new parking garage with a capacity of 1,100 cars adjacent to the Crown Sports Pavilion/Norris Aquatics Center. The garage is expected to provide ample parking for the new building and fields.

What will happen to the bike path that runs along the lake the length of campus?

The bicycle/walking path will be improved and extended north from where it currently ends near the soccer/lacrosse field. A portion of the existing path will be closed during the construction of the outdoor football practice field. 

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