Northwestern to redevelop football stadium after record donation

Northwestern will redevelop Ryan Field in the coming years thanks to a $480 million donation from the family of Patrick and Shirley Ryan, the university announced Wednesday.

The donation from the Ryans, whose names appear on both the football stadium and the Northwestern basketball arena, will include funds for other college projects but will serve as the main donation for the stadium’s reconstruction. Northwestern said it will generate additional donations to complete the project, which will likely begin after the 2022 football season.

The $480 million donation is the largest in the university’s history.

Originally built in 1926, the football stadium was last renovated in 1997, when it also changed its name from Dyche Stadium to Ryan Field. Patrick and Shirley Ryan are graduates of Northwestern, and Patrick Ryan served as chairman of the school’s board of trustees for 14 years.

Northwestern will soon consider bids from architecture and design firms for the stadium project, which aims to exceed the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and become more accessible to all fans. The team would play at least one season — and most likely two — at alternate venues, with Chicago’s Soldier Field as a likely option. Northwestern could also play more season-ending games at Wrigley Field, where it hosts Purdue on Nov. 20.

“We deeply appreciate the Ryan family’s enduring dedication to our student-athletes,” athletic director Derrick Gragg said in a prepared statement. “The impact of their visionary generosity on the Wildcats past, present and future is truly incomparable. The rebuilt Ryan Field will be a world-class venue suitable for this institution’s pursuit of excellence in all areas.”

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