Ryan Field (stadium)

Ryan Field (stadium)

Ryan Field
Former names Dyche Stadium (1926–1996)
Location 1501 Central Street
Evanston, IL 60201[1]
Owner Northwestern University
Operator Northwestern University
Capacity 47,130 (1997–present)
48,187 (1996)
49,256 (1982–1995)
48,500 (1975–1981)
55,000 (1954–1974)
52,000 (1949–1953)
47,000 (1927–1934)
25,000 (1926)
Surface Grass: 1926–1972, 1997–present
Astroturf: 1973–1996
Broke ground April 8, 1926[2]
Opened October 2, 1926[3]
Renovated 1996
Expanded 1949, 1952
Construction cost $2.6 million (original)[4]
($34.6 million in 2016 dollars[5])
1996 renovation: $20 Million
Architect James Gamble Rogers[1]
General contractor J. B. French Construction Company[1]
Northwestern Wildcats (NCAA) (1926–present)

Ryan Field is a stadium in Evanston, Illinois, United States on the campus of Northwestern University. It is primarily used for American football, and is the home field of the Northwestern Wildcats football team. The field opened in 1926 and holds 47,130 people. Prior to 1997, the stadium was named Dyche Stadium, for William Dyche, Class of 1882, former Evanston mayor and overseer of the building project. In 1997, the field was renamed Ryan Field in honor of the family of Patrick G. Ryan, who was then the chairman of Northwestern's board of trustees. The renaming was made by the other members of the board in recognition of the Ryan family's leadership and numerous contributions to Northwestern, including the lead gift to the Campaign for Athletic Excellence, Northwestern's fundraising drive for athletic facilities.


  • History 1
  • Controversy 2
  • Transportation 3
  • In popular culture 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


At the time it was constructed, Dyche Stadium was considered one of the finest college football stadiums in the country.[6] The stadium originally consisted of two semi circular grandstands on either sideline, with the west (home) sideline having a small, curved upper deck whose 2 ends abut in matching concrete towers. The purpose of the curved grandstands was to maximize the number of fans sitting close to the action.[6] Endzone seating was later added in the south endzone, and in 1952 McGaw Memorial Hall was built beyond the north endzone.

The stadium had an artificial turf surface from 1973 to 1996. Prior to the 1997 season, natural grass was installed and the playing surface was lowered approximately five feet to improve sight lines from the lowest rows of the grandstands.

The Chicago Bears hosted their first home game of the 1970 season at Dyche Stadium as an experiment; the NFL had demanded that the Bears move out of Wrigley Field because Wrigley's seating capacity was under 50,000. After Evanston residents petitioned city officials to block the team from moving there permanently, the Bears ended up moving to Chicago's Soldier Field the following year.

The stadium hosted the 1932 Women's and 1948 Men's US Olympic Trials for track and field. The Women's Trials were held July 16, 1932 and the Men's Trials were held July 9-10, 1948. The venue also hosted the 1943 NCAA Men's Track and Field Championships.

The stadium also hosted the Chicago College All-Star Game in 1943 and 1944. The college all-stars held their practices for the game at Ryan Field in years such as 1934 and 1935.[7]

Ryan Field in November 2006
Ryan Field in November 2006


Northwestern's decision to rename Dyche Stadium to Ryan Field defied the university's own 1926 resolution that forbade such a change. School officials said that a private institution can override previous boards' decisions, and dismissed the earlier resolution as a "show of appreciation." But NU did not explain why a mere gesture of appreciation would expressly state that any football stadium at any location would retain the name Dyche, as indeed the 1926 resolution does. The Dyche family wasn't notified of the change; NU claimed that the only descendant they found was a grandniece, despite other family members living in Chicago and being listed in the phone book. After the family protested, NU said it was willing to install an informational plaque at the stadium, noting its former name.[8]


The closest transit stations are Metra commuter railroad's Central Street station and Chicago Transit Authority's Central station on the Purple Line.

In popular culture

Parts of The Express, a 2008 film about Syracuse University Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis starring Rob Brown as Davis, and Dennis Quaid as Davis' Syracuse coach, Ben Schwartzwalder, were filmed at Ryan Field.[9]

Parts of Four Friends, a 1981 film directed by Arthur Penn, were filmed at Dyche Stadium.


  1. ^ a b c "Ryan Field". Ballparks.com. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Northwestern Starts Work on New $1,000,000 Stadium".  
  3. ^ LaTourette, Larry. Northwestern Wildcat Football. Chicago: Arcadia Publishing. p. 35.  
  4. ^ "Northwestern's New Field Named Dyche Stadium".  
  5. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Pridmore, Jay (2000). Northwestern University: Celebrating 150 Years. Northwestern University Press. p. 126. 
  7. ^ Schmidt, Raymond (2001). Football's Stars of Summer: A History of the College All-Star Football Game Series of 1934-1976. Lanham, Maryland; London, England: Scarecrow Press.  
  8. ^ Morissey, Rick (18 September 1997). "For Dyche Clan, Perpetuity Didn't Last Long".  
  9. ^ Bhattarai, Abha (May 1, 2007). "Bringing Hollywood to NU".  

External links

  • Ryan Field History, Northwestern University Archives, Evanston, Illinois