Northwestern Confirms Majority of Football Games to Be Played in Lakefront Lacrosse Venue

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At 47,130 seats, Ryan Field, home to Northwestern University football since 1926, has long been the Big Ten's smallest stadium, but the Wildcats will see capacity shrink significantly the next two seasons as they host games at a campus lacrosse and soccer venue on Lake Michigan.

As reported by Northwestern Now, NU's football team will play a majority of its games this season at the enhanced Lanny and Sharon Martin athletics facility, keeping the team close to home as construction continues on a new Ryan Field, scheduled to open in 2026. The university is also exploring alternative sites in the Chicago area for games over the next two seasons.

Related: Northwestern Receives Go-Ahead to Build New Ryan Field

Exactly how many fans the enhanced venue can seat remains unclear, but it will clearly be a fraction of what the old Ryan Field could accommodate.

Related: Northwestern May Build Temporary Stadium to Host Football Games

In the coming weeks, 2023 season ticket holders will receive communications from Northwestern Athletics with more information on the season ticket timeline, seat selection process, seating options and parking. They will be afforded first opportunity to secure seating in NU's temporary football home.

Other teams, including the national title-winning lacrosse team and both the women’s and men’s soccer teams, will play their home games at the Martin athletics facility, as well.

"With views of the lake, North Campus and downtown Chicago, the temporary structure Northwestern will build at the Martin athletics facility will provide a stunning backdrop for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, bridging the gap between the old Ryan Field and the new state-of-the-art stadium," Eliza Larson of Northwestern Now reported.

President Michael Schill said the university looked at several options for the next two seasons and decided building this temporary facility on campus provided the best option for Northwestern’s student-athletes, for the student experience, for alumni, for season ticket holders and for the campus and Evanston communities, according to Larson.

“I am thrilled that we could make this happen. It’s truly a win for our community,” Schill said. “In addition to creating a wonderful fan experience in the lead-up to the opening of Ryan Field, hosting games on campus will reduce the travel burdens for our student-athletes and fans and will make games much more accessible. We also are pleased to keep the economic benefits of football game days in Evanston.”

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