2019 Northwestern Applies for Commercial-Professional Uses-Zoning Change at Stadium/Arena

Evanston is more than Northwestern University: Tell the Mayor and City Council not to sacrifice our neighborhoods!

The university has been quietly trying to obtain changes in zoning law that would allow for-profit concerts, professional sporting events, and other commercial activities at its facilities. These events would dramatically alter the quality of life and negatively impact community safety and infrastructure in Evanston and Wilmette.

For decades, Evanston zoning code for the U2 District permits Northwestern University to hold Community and cultural events of a NONPROFIT nature and AMATEUR athletics events at the Welsh-Ryan -Rocky Miller sport complex. It is critical to recognize the unique position of these facilities within a residential neighborhood and that Northwestern University is a non-profit institution dedicated to education.

In 1970 Northwestern University was given a special use permit to host a Bears game at the football stadium.  The effect on the surrounding communities was disastrous, as a result the City adopted the present ordinance forbidding professional sport and commercial events in the Welsh-Ryan complex.  NU claimed the one special use permit they had been granted constituted precedent and for the next 7 years the University repeatedly sued, until 1978 when The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of The City of Evanston. 

In 1996, Northwestern University tried once again to amend the ordinance and was stopped thanks to the concerted efforts of Evanston residents and over 80 local businesses.

The  2019 application before the City is an attempt to establish a new PRECEDENT that will allow the University to  hold COMMERCIAL & PROFESSIONAL events and systematically expand the number and size of events it can profit from, without regard to the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses. 

  • The change would allow any group, through NU, to legally apply for professional sports and commercial events at the U2 District: Stadium, Welsh Ryan Arena & other NU athletic venues in NE Evanston.
  • Events could be ANYTHING, i.e.. rock concerts, pro-sports, political rallies, up to 47,300 attendees, several times a year
  • The existing zoning ordinance is protecting the residential neighborhoods in Evanston and WIlmette.

Evanston already loses money in overtime pay, lost revenue to local businesses and damage to infrastructure during the 130+ events that are allowed in the athletic facilities.  This impacts every tax-paying citizen in Evanston.

Tell the Mayor and City Council not to roll back the hard fought victories of the 1970s and ‘90s and Vote NO on changes to the Zoning laws for Welsh-Ryan.

Please sign the petition today, then share this email with your friends and neighbors, ask them to sign as well:

http://chng.it/w8G2JGmkP2 Petition to Support the Neighbors

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