Welsh Ryan Arena
Welsh Ryan Arena Renovation / EvanstonIL

The B1G 10's Northwestern University Wildcats Welsh-Ryan Arena is open and saw its first season of play on November 2, 2018. Located within the McGaw Memorial Hall, the 65-year-old-structure received a top-to-bottom renovation that transformed the fan and student-athlete experience, providing maximum accessibility, and aid in recruiting for the University's basketball, volleyball, and wrestling programs.

The $110 million renovations in collaboration with HOK architect, incorporates cutting-edge amenities while using state-of-the-art construction techniques to preserve iconic features of the original 1953 structure. To accomplish this, Mortenson demolished the majority of the building and removed the lateral structural system. Using temporary bracing and cable systems, Mortenson built a new structural steel framework to strengthen and bring it up to code while maintaining the structural integrity of the original.

Being on an active campus with sporting events, commencement activities, and with a residential area right across the street required an in-depth sequencing plan and extensive disruption avoidance coordination. Site work and exterior enclosure work was phased to eliminate disruptions to Northwestern’s ongoing events.

Fan Experience:

  • New chair-back seating
  • New restrooms
  • New concessions areas with additional point-of-sale stations to increase efficiency, along with new food and drink offerings
  • State-of-the-art lighting, audio, and video capabilities
  • Expansion of high-revenue generating premium seating areas
  • 50 percent bigger lobby
  • A new ticket office

Student-Athlete Experience:

  • New locker rooms for men's basketball, women's basketball, and volleyball
  • New offices for men's and women's basketball


  • Wider, more accessible concourses
  • Five new elevators replacing the existing single elevator
  • Addition of accessible restrooms

Facts And Figures

Northwestern University

Completion Date: November 2018


210,647 square feet

7,000 seats

Delivery Methods

Construction Manager at Risk

The Team