As the city and university celebrated the news of the $173 million arena development that will relocate the men’s and women’s basketball teams to McCormick Place in 2016, students questioned the worth of the project.
With a team that has not made a NCAA tournament appearance since 2004 and has struggled to attract substantial game attendance the past few years, students argued whether it is the right move.
“Maybe they should get it when they win a few more games,” said Jeph Trout, a junior. “I guess they have a couple years to get better.”
The 10,000-seat arena, part of the large-scale tourism and economic development project that is reported to bring roughly 10,000 jobs to the city, will be funded partially by DePaul and partially by the city’s Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.
“Where’d they get this money from? If they were a winning team, if they were bringing revenue to Rosemont, that’s one thing – but I think we need to put our money somewhere else right now,” said senior James Hopkins. “People were going to Rosemont to watch them lose. I’m not going to knock our guys, but I’m being real.”
In a statement from DePaul’s Student Government Association (SGA), the organization applauded the partnership and the project. SGA will host a Student Town Hall in coordination with DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti-Ponsetto and DePaul Athletics on May 30 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the McGrath-Phillips Arena.
“We are confident in DePaul’s ability to participate in this partnership without increasing the price of tuition, a particularly important point given our mission-based student population.” SGA president Caroline Winsett and vice president Casey Clemmons wrote, “We, along with the rest of our fellow Blue Demons, look forward to creating memories in our new home, a true home, for all of DePaul.”
Students who have taken the shuttle bus to Allstate Arena said they were excited to have the team play closer to campus.
“The bus ride to Rosemont is long, and this (stadium) will be closer and more fun for students,” said DePaul alumus Michael Taylor. “I think it will make (DePaul) feel more like a college campus. Although it would be better on campus, we’ll take what we can get.”
Taylor used to attend games at Allstate Arena regularly when he attended DePaul.
“I am very excited about it – it’s about time, as a fan, it’s been too long,” said Taylor.
Unlike Allstate Arena, the unnamed arena will be easily accessible by public transit, but not steps away from the Lincoln Park campus.
“I’m glad it’s something, and I understand people have to make money,” said senior Caullen Hudson. “The fact that it is closer will benefit students.”
However, the DePaul contribution has some students confused about how the school can front the $70 million and why the city is including the university in such a grand scheme.
“I think this puts pressure on the basketball team,” said senior Cynthia Garcia. “They need to step it up if the city is spending that much money on them.”