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With the support of an unprecedented private donation, Northwestern University had the opportunity to rebuild its storied 100-year-old football stadium, Ryan Field. But first, they had to win over support from the local community and gain approval from public officials.
Regardless of how much support a project has, it is opponents who are incentivized to speak out. Our job was to work with those who supported the project to be equally as vocal. And they had good reasons: this $800 million investment would not only benefit the university, but also pour millions into the community to support economic development, education, affordable housing and small businesses.
Project supporters took to local and regional media, began communicating with officials and mobilized neighbors and friends to make their voices heard ahead of key milestones, including public meetings and council votes.
After more than a year of community engagement and relationship building efforts, and over 50 hours of hearings, the stadium proposal and accompanying rezoning were approved. Through an intentionally proactive approach aimed at mobilizing the community, we helped to build trust with local residents and ensure this once-in-a-lifetime investment became a reality.