Northwestern taps Turner-Walsh JV for $800M stadium project

Award: Ryan Field Stadium
Value: $800 million
Location: Evanston, Illinois
Client: Northwestern University

Northwestern University has selected a joint venture of New York City-based Turner Construction and Chicago-based Walsh Construction as construction manager on the $800 million redevelopment of Ryan Field stadium in Evanston, Illinois, the school announced March 23.

The university said the new stadium will be fan-centered, with the best sight lines in college football. Upgrades to the venue, which first opened in 1926, include chair backs, a dedicated student section, enhanced scoreboards and improved concessions. An overhanging canopy inside the stadium’s rim is designed to focus noise and light on the field.

Universal design standards will make the venue among the most accessible stadiums in the country, Northwestern claims. Project plans also include plazas, a new community park and other publicly accessible green spaces around the stadium, some of which could host other outdoor events. The project is aiming to attain LEED-Gold certification. 

The stadium is being privately funded, in part, from a $480 million donation from the family of Northwestern alum Pat Ryan, the retired founder and CEO of insurance giant Aon. It is the largest single gift in the school’s history. 

Smaller size

In contrast to the bigger-is-better designs of other high-dollar sports venues in recent years, plans for the project call for the stadium to be downsized from 47,000 to 35,000 seats. Doing so will give Ryan Field a more intimate atmosphere, the university said. It will also enable multiple events besides just football, including women’s lacrosse games and concerts, though the university will need a zoning change approval for that to happen. 

The project has spurred controversy. A front-page article this week in the Wall Street Journal highlighted efforts by local Evanson, Illinois, residents to block the project due to concerns over increased noise, reduced parking and alcohol being served at games and other events.

The project has a 35% local, minority- and woman-owned subcontractor goal, according to the school. Turner-Walsh and university officials will hold the project’s initial community outreach session April 5 to connect local businesses to opportunities. 

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