Evanston should support Northwestern’s latest proposal on Ryan Field

It’s hard to understand why six additional nights of music events a year are too much of a burden. The project would create transformational change for many Evanstonians.

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Rendering of the proposed Ryan Field.

Rendering of the proposed Ryan Field.

Northwestern University

Patrick Moynihan, the late former long-time senator from New York, could have been talking about recent op-eds opposing Northwestern University’s Ryan Field when he said, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.”

Let’s look at some of those “facts.”

First, you can’t compare the new Ryan Field to the United Center or Wrigley Field. Those facilities each host more than 100 capacity events (pro sports games and concerts) a year. The plan for the new Ryan Field adds six more capacity events — with football games, that’s a whopping total of 13 days a year.

Second, the new stadium replaces an existing stadium, and the community already hosts summer concerts. The university is not paving paradise to put up a parking lot. The current stadium has been at the identical address since 1926. The new stadium is smaller, more sustainable and more accessible. And the community has survived — and thrived — with larger football crowds and a nearby facility that hosts outdoor concerts every summer.

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Third, it’s time to do more than pay lip service to equity. Evanstonians are proud of our commitment to equity, as evidenced by being the first city in the U.S. to pass reparations. The new Ryan Field project will bring more than $208 million to local, minority-owned and women-owned businesses. This is at a scale well beyond any project in Evanston’s history.

The rebuild will also create a pipeline and funded training to empower underemployed Evanstonians with the skills to move from minimum-wage jobs to careers with financial security. It’s hard to understand why six additional nights of music events in the neighborhood a year are too much of a burden to bear in order to create transformational change for many Evanstonians.

Finally, community engagement led to change. After receiving feedback, Northwestern updated its proposal — lowering the number of concerts and use of plazas. Furthermore, after clear interest and feedback that more resources should go toward job training and technology upskilling, the university responded with a new investment of millions of dollars directly into the community.

With Evanstonians supporting the new Ryan Field project (including concerts) by more than a 2-to-1 ratio, opponents have resorted to misrepresentation and demagoguery. Their fellow Evanston residents deserve honesty.

Peter and Susan Kelly, Evanston

Ald. Ramirez-Rosa spurns compromise

After reading the story about adjusting restaurant workers’ minimum wage, one thing is very clear: The mayor and his floor leader, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, are averse to compromise of any kind and unwilling to even listen to another opinion on the subject (“Mayor’s floor leader rejects latest restaurant industry compromise on subminimum wage” — Sept. 15).

Restaurant industry representatives are warning that the changes will eventually hurt businesses and workers. They have asked for a compromise and even offered an alternative.

Ramirez-Rosa is having none of it. He is determined to ram through his plan. Compromise and a willingness to listen is not what Ramirez-Rosa wants to do — consequences be damned.

Tony LaMantia, Logan Square

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