New Ryan Field with Football Gridiron and Closer End Bleachers
Neighborhood of Current Ryan Field above, and New Ryan Field Below
This is a challenging concept that one of my readers gave me. Apparently Chicago is in the running for the 2016 Olympics, and there needs to be an Olympic Stadium in the bid. The only plausible use for a sports team after the Olympics would be the Northwestern Wildcats football team, as the Chicago Bears new flying saucer can't accomodate track and field any more. So the reader asked for a plan to renovate Ryan Field as a possible Olympic Stadium.
I've never been to Ryan Field, but I've watched enough Big Ten football and seen enough pictures that I know what it looks like. I don't think a simple renovation would be adequate for Ryan Field, it would have to be nearly completely rebuilt. The existing field of play is too narrow for Olympic track and field. However, I think the West stands, which appear to be the main grandstand, could be incorporated into a new Olympic Stadium. The West stand is pretty cool looking, with towers on each end and a unique sloping balcony. However, the rest of the stadium looks unremarkable, and a ton of seats would have to be added anyway, so here is the plan.
- Keep the West main grandstand, remove benches, and replace with actual seats. This looks like about 25,000 capacity by my scale.
- Tear down the other seating. Replace with structure containing 46,000 seats. with 20,000 capacity in the lower bowl, 12,000 in the upper bowl, and 11,000 in an eastern upper deck. 3,000 more seats will be in a club/suite level high above the stadium like other Big Ten schools. I had more end seating in an original plan, but after looking at the city map, I saw that I would have torn through lots of buildings, including the basketball arena, so I had to change the plan to have more sideline seats.
Bleachers could be added between the endzone and main seating bowl to create closer football stands like the LA Coliseum. Total capacity is 71,000. This is short of the 80,000 standard for the Olympics, but Athens was a little short too and got away with it, and 80,000 would be a really tight squeeze at this site. With a good bid from Chicago, that could be overlooked, considering there would be a good use for the stadium after the games; unlike many Olympic venues. The stadium could be downsized after the Olympics for use by Northwestern football, as 71,000 might be a bit much for them. However, I think the track should be maintained after the Olympics, because there are almost no large track and field stadiums remaining in the US any more, and Chicago could host lots of non-Olympic track and field and big soccer matches if they have the best stadium in the nation for it; it could be more or less the permanent national stadium.
Let me know what you think.