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Northwestern gets serious pushback from locals over alcohol-related change in stadium plans

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Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern University is hoping to turn its next stadium into a money-making venture beyond just football games, and it seems one plan to accomplish that goal has gotten major pushback from locals in Evanston.

Northwestern’s current stadium, Ryan Field, has served as the home for many memorable moments in the school’s athletic history. However, the venue with a 47,000-person capacity is decades removed from its prime after opening nearly 100 years ago.

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With college sports being a massive source of income for universities, it’s unsurprising that Northwestern has plans in place for a major upgrade with a privately funded arena in Evanston. However, the school is pursuing a notable adjustment to plans for the $800 million venue that has wrangled many locals.

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Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Northwestern University is pursuing a zoning change that would allow the arena to host concerts and serve alcohol. That is something folks in Evanston, Illinois have no interest in seeing happen and over 1,000 of them have reportedly signed a petition to block the change.

Citizens against the possibility of alcohol use at the stadium have concerns that it will lead to drunken disruptions in the neighborhood, as well as “crimes of opportunity” in the late-night hours.

Organizers of the petition also blasted Northwestern board of trustees chair Peter Barris over claims of hypocrisy after he allegedly asked government officials in Martha’s Vineyard to stop the construction of a hotel across the from his vacation home in 2021.

Northwestern University has spent over a billion dollars over the last decade $1 billion over the last decade to develop its various athletic facilities on its stretch of private property on the shores of Lake Michigan.

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