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Northwestern football ‘staying home’ with temporary enhancements to the Lanny and Sharon Martin facility on lakefront

As work to rebuild Ryan Field continues, the University will build a temporary field on Evanston campus for football, soccer, lacrosse games
temporary facility
With views of Lake Michigan, North Campus and the Chicago skyline, the temporary structure Northwestern will build at the Martin athletics facility will provide a stunning backdrop for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, bridging the gap between the old Ryan Field and the new, state-of-the-art stadium, scheduled to open in 2026.

Northwestern’s football team will play a majority of its games this season at the Lanny and Sharon Martin athletics facility near Lake Michigan on the University’s Evanston campus, keeping the team close to home as it seeks to build on its bowl-winning 2023 season.

With views of the lake, North Campus and downtown Chicago, the temporary structure Northwestern will build at the Martin athletics facility will provide a stunning backdrop for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, bridging the gap between the old Ryan Field and the new state-of-the-art stadium, scheduled to open in 2026.

Most of the Wildcats’ home football games will be played at the enhanced Martin athletics facility. The University also is continuing discussions with other Chicago-area venues that could host some 2024 games. The full home schedule will be released soon.

Other teams, including the national title-winning lacrosse team and both the women’s and men’s soccer teams, also will play their home games at the Martin athletics facility. Northwestern’s field hockey team will continue to play at nearby Lakeside Field.

President Michael Schill said the University looked at several options for the next two seasons and decided building this temporary facility on campus provided the best option for Northwestern’s student-athletes, for the student experience, for alumni, for season ticket holders and for the campus and Evanston communities.

“I am thrilled that we could make this happen. It’s truly a win for our community,” Schill said. “In addition to creating a wonderful fan experience in the lead-up to the opening of Ryan Field, hosting games on campus will reduce the travel burdens for our student-athletes and fans and will make games much more accessible. We also are pleased to keep the economic benefits of football gamedays in Evanston.”

Although the exact configuration is still being designed, the structure will be a temporary enhancement to the existing Lanny and Sharon Martin athletics facility and part of Chap and Ethel Hutcheson Field. Capacity for the temporary facility will be considerably less than either the old Ryan Field or the new Ryan Field that is under construction. 2023 season ticket holders will get the first opportunity to purchase season tickets at the lakeside venue; there also will be seats reserved for Northwestern students. In the coming weeks, 2023 season ticket holders will receive communications from Northwestern Athletics with more information on the season ticket timeline, seat selection process, seating options and parking.

Non-season ticket holders interested in season tickets at the lakeside venue can join the season ticket wait-list.

“To be able to play these games on campus is a huge advantage for our football program and will be a great benefit to our reigning national champion and top-ranked lacrosse team and both the women’s and men’s soccer programs,” said Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Dr. Derrick Gragg. “We look forward to welcoming fans and the entire Northwestern community to this beautiful area of campus to cheer on our Wildcat student-athletes.”

To make the enhancements to the Martin athletics facility, the University has partnered with InProduction, the company behind the structures used for the NASCAR viewing area in downtown Chicago, as well as temporary seating, staging, structures and more for college athletics at the University of Hawaii and Florida State.

Construction is expected to begin early this summer, and the facility will remain operational through the 2025 season.

“We talk all the time about providing the ultimate student-athlete experience, and keeping our team on campus while providing a true home field advantage accomplishes that mission,” said Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Football Coach David Braun. “During a period of exciting transition, playing in a venue that brings the Northwestern community together provides a perfect bridge to the new Ryan Field, and I’m so excited about the gameday experience for our program and the entire Wildcat community.”

The facility will provide a boost to the top-ranked lacrosse team, among others, by expanding the number of seats for home games. This season, which will conclude before the temporary facility is built, six of the seven home lacrosse games have sold out.  

“The Martin athletics facility is one of the most picturesque college sports venues in the country,” said Combe Family Head Lacrosse Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. “We look forward to the Northwestern football team and its fans experiencing the tremendous environment that lacrosse, soccer and field hockey have enjoyed on the shores of Lake Michigan.”

Keeping the majority of home football games on the Evanston campus also will benefit nearby businesses, providing a boost to downtown and Central Street businesses on gamedays.

“We are excited about Northwestern’s decision to host a majority of its home football games at a temporary facility on campus,” said Valerie Romano, president of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. “The Evanston Chamber of Commerce is fully supportive of this idea, and we look forward to the increased business activity it will bring to downtown Evanston.”

More information will be released about logistics and ticket opportunities in the near future.

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