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EXTRA POINTS INVESTIGATES: Do Ohio State fans pee in Evanston yards the most?

We're about facts, not feelings.

Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

The Wall Street Journal wrote a great story on a major off-the-field storyline in my neck of the woods: the battle over the future of Ryan Field between Northwestern and some Evanston residents.

For those who aren’t aware, Northwestern’s campus is in Evanston, a suburb just to the north of Chicago. Ryan Field, where the Wildcats currently play football, sits a few blocks away from most of the rest of campus, smack between a delightful hot dog stand and a bunch of expensive houses.

That part of Evanston is a lovely neighborhood, but Ryan Field…if we’re being honest, is kind of a dump. It’s old, lacks most modern stadium amenities, and simply isn’t very fun to visit. I’ve attended several games there, and in my opinion, it feels like going to a giant high school football game. I don’t mean that as a compliment.

The school agrees that Ryan Field needs an upgrade, and is trying to dramatically remodel the stadium. The proposed New Ryan Field would have improved sight lines, improved tailgating opportunities, and would concerts and other events.

But as the WSJ explained, not every resident is in love with the idea. The proposal faces significant community pushback, as many residents who purchased homes next to a Big Ten University football stadium have concerns about noise and crowds.

In my humble opinion, this quote was the real kicker:

Mr. Starkman, who is 56, said complaints about fans urinating on lawns and bushes after games are exaggerated and happen only when Northwestern hosts Ohio State.

Wisconsin fans party very hard but are “nice and respectful,” he said; Michigan State fans are “brilliant, lots of doctors and judges”; Michigan supporters are “ruffians” but generally well behaved; Iowa’s are the friendliest in the Big Ten, and Nebraska’s fans are the most likely to arrive in pickups.

“Ohio State fans are the only problem,” Mr. Starkman said. “They have a monster following, and they think the world is their bathroom.”

Asked about that, Ohio State declined to comment.

Okay. Cards on the table here.

As most of you know, I live in Chicago. Not Evanston, but Chicago-Chicago. I’m also a proud graduate of The Ohio State University. I have attended multiple Ohio State-Northwestern games, and I want to state for the record that I have never peed in any bushes or on any lawns in Evanston…at an Ohio State game, or otherwise.

I’m in Evanston a lot. My wife grew up there and was on the diving team for Evanston Township High School. My inlaws still live there, which means my most reliable babysitting source is there. In my personal experience…all the stereotypes mentioned in this story about Evanston are true. This is an NPR Tote Bag of a suburb, in both good ways, and maddeningly frustrating ways. This is a neighborhood of HATE HAS NO HOME HERE…AND NEITHER DO LAND-GRANT GRADUATES signs.

But is Mr. Starkmark right? Are Ohio State fans laying siege on the leafy lawns of Evanston, fueled by Monster energy drinks and hubris? Do they really pee everywhere and cause trouble, or at least, more than the other Big Ten fans? Or is Mr. Starkman just mad because Northwestern has only one win over Ohio State in Evanston since the 1950s?

There’s only one way to find out. I filed a FOIA.

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