Northwestern should renovate Ryan Field, just like the Cubs did at Wrigley

By Chicago 6 Min Read

Last Saturday, Northwestern University’s football team played its game in a stadium that is 12 years older than its own football stadium. Wrigley Field is cherished by Chicagoans and those around the world as an historic athletic facility. It would be unthinkable to tear down the “friendly confines” and rebuild a modern stadium in its place. Yet Northwestern proposes to do exactly that with Ryan Field.

Unlike Ryan Field, which is functionally intact, concrete began falling from above onto Cubs fans in 2004. Beginning in 2014, Chicago Cubs owners commenced a privately funded, multi-year renovation of Wrigley Field costing upwards of $500 million, substantially less than the $800 million price tag assigned to Northwestern’s new stadium.

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With this comprehensive renovation complete, Wildcat fans enjoyed a modern, improved experience while reveling in the classic, historic feel of an original ballpark. Importantly, environmental sustainability was respected as resources were not deployed to demolish a stadium just to build a new one in its place.

  • $800 million Ryan Field plan could be good for Evanston, but only if both sides benefit

There has been much opposition to the plans for a new Ryan Field because of traffic, noise and increased demand for public services. Yet, I don’t hear much said about how odd the project is compared to what happened on the hallowed ground at Wrigley.

Perhaps a renovation of Ryan Field would not create new revenue streams for Northwestern from luxury boxes and concert tickets. It may not enable NU to boast of its “world-class stadium.” But some things in life are more important than filthy lucre and bragging rights.

Northwestern should preserve its history, respect the environment and, as the Cubs have done, renovate its own friendly confines at the corner of Central and Ashland in Evanston.

Clark A. McCain, Ravenswood

Decades of Chicago flooding

Reading Jessica Pupovac’s “Basement Full of Troubled Waters?” in today’s Sun-Times, I add my experiences to the mix.

Like Dick Lanyon, I’m also a Metropolitan Water Reclamation District retiree. Back in August 1987, there was a storm that eclipsed this past July’s event. shutting down the Kennedy Expressway on the Northwest Side.

Then in the early 1990s, I was a responder for the north area for a storm equal to July’s. Keep in mind there was only 31 miles of deep tunnel without reservoirs back then — but the extent of flooding was the same? I believe the recent flooding is due to overbuilding in the center core of Chicago, one 70-floor tower after another erected, with no greenery or provision for absorption.

The riverwalk along the main stem of the river has been underwater, and the Racine Avenue Pumping Station dumps into the south branch at 39th Street because the sewers and interceptors are inadequate to carry the load. Doesn’t this remove the ability for the system to minimize overflow further to the west?

I go back over 40 years ago to a wooden “Tide Gate” located on the east side of the south branch between Jackson Boulevard and Van Buren Street, accessible from Lower Wacker Drive. The river was on one side with a sewer on the other. I question whether it still has some meaningful use?

Fred J. Wittenberg, Evanston

Stop the rising tide of antisemitism

I remain extremely worried about the sharp rise of raw antisemitic incidents, especially on university campuses like Columbia, Cornell and Tulane. Since Hamas, a terrorist organization whose mission is to eliminate all Jews, barbarically attacked Israel, antisemitism has increased significantly at home and abroad.

The Anti-Defamation League reports a 388% increase in antisemitic incidents in the U.S. following Hamas’ massacre of innocent Israelis. From Oct. 7-23 in 2022, there were 64 antisemitic incidents. In 2023 during that same time frame, there were 312 such incidents.

In addition, during his testimony to Congress on Oct. 31, FBI Director Christopher Wray declared that antisemitism is reaching “historic levels” in the U.S.

It is time for all Americans to stand up and speak out loudly against this hate and recognize that one can simultaneously fight Hamas and support Palestinians. In addition, university students and faculty should demand their administration take action immediately to condemn antisemitic hate. As history reminds us, terrorism is evil and silence as a response is the enemy.

Moreover, it is clear that what some call “protests” are in reality “attacks” against Jews. These antisemitic attacks must be stopped before it is too late. As I have argued in recent op-eds, our country’s political landscape is looking more and more like the 1930s in Germany.

Richard A. Cherwitz, professor emeritus, University of Texas at Austin

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