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A Guide to Northwestern's Facilities Projects

What a past 12+ hours for Northwestern fans. Less than two hours after the upset over Iowa, the Tribune broke the story about today’s major fundraising announcement. I have outlined all of the significant information below.

Go here for full detail:

-A summary from Chris Johnson

-The Chicago Tribune’s story on the fundraising campaign

-The Chicago Tribune’s story on the athletics angle

-The “We Will” fundraising page and video

-The statement on the athletics facility

Here is the summary on the overall campaign:

-The “We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern” started 18 months ago

-The goal is $3.75 billion, which includes $1.52 billion already raised since September 2011

-The campaign is raising money for facilities on the two campuses, scholarships, aid, endowed faculty positions, academic and research programs

-The four main new buildings cited are the lakefront athletic facilities, the new joint Kellogg and department of economics building next to the lakefill, the new joint music and communications building that is currently being constructed on the south lakefill and expected to finish in the spring of 2015, and a biomedical research building in Chicago on the former site of Prentice

-Other work referenced includes the new visitor’s center currently being constructed along the lake next to Clark Street beach, the improvements made to Deering Library, and $80 million in renovations to Kresge

-Per the Tribune, this is the largest fundraising effort ever attempted in the Chicago area

-Construction on the new Kellogg building is expected to begin in the next month or two

Here is the summary on the impact to Northwestern athletics and recreation:

-The lakefront facilities have expanded from one building, originally estimated to cost $220 million, to two buildings and will likely cost significantly more

-The facility will offer more than 500,000 square feet in either new or renovated space

-It will be the center for all varsity athletes and will house academic support, sports medicine, nutrition services, and more

-The new Ryan Fieldhouse will host campus-wide events, some soccer and lacrosse games, and both intramural and club sports

-Lakeside Field will be renovated and renamed Lanny and Sharon Martin Stadium

-The field hockey area will also be renovated

-The football team will get a new outdoor practice field

-SPAC will get an additional basketball court, new locker rooms, and additional space

-The announcement has come after a $40 million donation from Mark Walter (JD 1985 and both controlling owner and chairman of the LA Dodgers) and Kimbra Walter (BA 1985), which will be used for athletics and law school scholarships

The specific plans for athletics:

-The Tribune’s photo gallery contains the latest rendering of the two building lakefront athletics facility

-I labeled the significant buildings in the rendering to put everything in perspective

-Here is both the original rendering (top) and the new rendering (below), which replaced a large grass field to the NW of the single building facility with a second building. Here are two other views of the athletics buildings.

-Northwestern is aiming to start construction in early 2015 once the current parking structure is completed on the west side of SPAC and will take approximately two years to complete

-Separately, Rocky Miller Park will receive an $11 million renovation

Got all that? This is perhaps the most significant change to Northwestern athletics since McGaw Memorial Hall opened on Central Street in 1952. The football program will be the largest beneficiary of the new complex, but it will help all programs. It should be a big boost to the lacrosse team, which recently moved home games to the Lake Barrington Field House due to the weather, and both soccer programs. All three teams will be able to play inside the Ryan Fieldhouse, but will continue to call the soon-to-be renovated Lakeside Field home.

We are all aware of the main benefits of the new complex. What has not been publicly addressed is what will happen with the facilities that remain on Central Street. In November, Teddy Greenstein reported that Northwestern was hoping to install a new floor, a new scoreboard, and replace the 100-level wooden bleachers with purple-backed seats inside Welsh-Ryan Arena before the 2014-2015 basketball season. We have not received any update on those plans since.

When the football team moves to campus, now slated for 2017, a significant area of land will be freed up on Central Street. Northwestern’s options seem to be to either tear down Welsh-Ryan Arena and construct a new arena elsewhere on that block or repurpose that land while renovating Welsh-Ryan Arena. There is also an option to move home games to Loyola for a season and do more significant construction on both land occupied by Welsh-Ryan Arena and other facilities. Ryan Field will also likely receive some upgrades, but it remains to be seen if fundraising for such efforts are on hold until the current athletic facilities initiatives are fully funded. And any repurposing of space currently used by the training and conditioning center, academic services, athletics offices, and by the football team, it stands to reason, cannot be touched until they move to the lakefront. The potential improvements to Welsh-Ryan Arena for next season probably do not offer any insight into their long-term plans since something new, at this point, likely would not be ready until 2020 or later.

Bonus: Tax Talk!

Jane Grover, who serves Evanston’s 7th ward, dropped this little nugget this morning:

I had previously estimated that Northwestern sports were responsible for roughly $800,000 of tax revenue to Evanston. This is likely the first time that the tax revenue has exceeded $1 million and is a big reason to the changes in the relationship between Northwestern and Evanston over sports. Fears of night game restrictions appear to have gone away after the last few seasons. The business community was very vocal about lost revenue from games being moved to Wrigley, which, combined with the tax revenue, puts a lot of pressure on Evanston to be more tolerable to what is best for Northwestern athletics. This is all good news for Northwestern athletics.