By 2031, the rebuild of Ryan Field on Northwestern’s campus will generate nearly $1.2 billion for the Evanston community, according to a newly released independent economic impact study. This includes $659.9 million in economic impact to the City of Evanston during the construction process alone.
The new Ryan Field will be funded entirely with private dollars, requiring no taxpayer dollars.
The study identified other key long-term benefits of the rebuild, including:
- The total economic impact of football and gameday visitors at Ryan Field on the City of Evanston will grow from $43.7 million annually to $52.2 million per year by 2031.
- In addition to income from six or seven football games per year, the analysis is based on the assumption of 10 to 12 concerts per year and a small number of other ticketed, amateur events. These will contribute $36.1 million in new annual economic benefit to Evanston by 2031.
- Direct tax revenue to the City will grow to $5 million annually by 2031 compared to current tax revenue of $1.4 million per year. These figures are in addition to indirect taxes generated through local spending (restaurants, retail, hotels, shopping) drawn from stadium-based events.
- The rebuild will create nearly 3,000 jobs in the region, including a target of 35% dedicated to minority-owned and women-owned businesses, with priority given to businesses and individuals located in Evanston.
The results of the study were shared Nov. 17 at the 7th Ward Community Meeting led by Evanston Councilmember Eleanor Revelle. Northwestern leaders have been meeting regularly with the community since the stadium rebuild project was announced.
> Related: Northwestern invites community feedback on new Ryan Field plan during office hours
Community input has driven a number of the design elements for the stadium, including smaller capacity (12,000 fewer seats), a state-of-the-art canopy to address noise and light, an underground loading and service dock, outdoor community plazas offering new gathering places and extensive landscaping buffers around the perimeter.
The University retained Tripp Umbach, an independent national consulting firm, to quantify the economic impacts of the upgraded stadium and benefits to Evanstonians during construction and when in operation. The firm examined the capital expenditures needed to complete the project, expected revenue generated from stadium operations for collegiate athletics and commensurate visitor spending, and also explored the opportunities associated with hosting special events at the rebuilt stadium, including a limited number of concerts.
The report states that the approach taken in the financial analysis was “purposely conservative” and utilized Impact Analysis for Planning data and software in combination with regional-specific Social Accounting Matrices and Multiplier Models.
As part of the review, Tripp Umbach also conducted a number of listening sessions to understand the community’s ideas, expectations and concerns with the project.
“Northwestern greatly values our relationship with all of our neighbors and sees this amazing, privately-funded project as a big win for everyone,” said Dave Davis, executive director of Neighborhood and Community Relations for Northwestern. “We will finally have a state-of-the-art venue more befitting of Northwestern’s Big Ten status for athletes and fans alike, and the City of Evanston will receive a beautiful community asset along with an enormous economic boost through increased direct and indirect tax revenues, job creation and local partnership opportunities.”
> Related: Read the full Tripp Umbach economic impact study on the Northwestern University Rebuild Ryan Field website
“Our numbers show that rebuilding the stadium provides powerful possibilities that greatly enhance an already vibrant, thriving community,”said Paul Umbach, founder and president of Tripp Umbach, who led the study. “Our study shows that the stadium will bring significant tax revenue to Evanston from visitors to the community, thereby allowing the City to invest in civic improvements, public safety and quality of life.”
The multi-year stadium rebuild stems from a transformative gift from the Patrick G. ’59, ’09 H and Shirley W. Ryan ’61, ’19 H (’97, ’00 P) Family to accelerate breakthroughs in biomedical, economic and business research and help redevelop and modernize Northwestern’s iconic football stadium, improving deficiencies in the old stadium and bringing it into the 21st century.