DePaul arena funding makes progress

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Photo courtesy of DePaul Athletics).

Early designs of the inside of DePaul’s new arena, located at Cermak and Indiana is set to open for the 2017-18 season. DePaul has raised $7.5 million in fundraising for it. (Photo courtesy of DEPAUL ATHLETICS).

DePaul Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponestto said Friday that DePaul has made progress in fundraising and selling premium seats to season ticket holders for the university’s planned arena in the South Loop. 

Lenti Ponsetto said DePaul hired the sports marketing firm Legends Sports Marketing to help secure naming rights and corporate sponsorship. The group was in contact with DePaul as many as 18 months ago, but Lenti Ponsetto said the marketing firm signed a contract in the summer. Lenti Ponsetto added that the university has raised $7.5 million of their expected $20 million from fundraising.

“Our fundraising at this point, we’re making really good strides,” Lenti Ponsetto said. “We’re at $7.5 (million) and we’ve been very quiet on that. We haven’t gone too public on that.  We’re excited about that.”

The total cost of the arena for DePaul will be $82.5 million.  The university has always said that they will pay their portion through naming rights, corporate sponsorships, ticket sales and fundraising.

DePaul will also soon have a preview center with updated renderings and a scaled-down 3D-model of the arena for potential corporate sponsors, season ticket holders and even students. At an open-scrimmage for men and women’s basketball in late October, updated renderings were shown to those at the event.

Interested sponsors and season ticket holders will be able to find the renderings and the 3D-model on the first floor of the DePaul Center on 1 E. Jackson Ave.  Lenti Ponsetto said students will most likely be able to view it sometime in the winter quarter.

“There’s also going to be a video board where our season ticket holders and other potential ticket holders can come in and view box seating and seats in general,” Lenti Ponsetto said. “We also have a student section that’s already been designated.”

Groundbreaking for the arena, however, still hasn’t happened.  The arena will be located at Cermak Road and Prairie Avenue.

At a construction meeting in July, papers distributed by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (McPier) said the groundbreaking would happen in late September.

“The date that was mentioned in the meeting was ‘estimated,’ which is typical for major construction projects,” a McPier spokeswoman said in an email. “We are currently in site prep. The groundbreaking will be happening soon. We are on target for the project to be completed in the fall of 2017.”

The spokeswoman added that the arena is scheduled to break ground sometime this month.

Despite not having broken ground, Lenti Ponsetto said she isn’t frustrated with the timeframe of the project.  She added that pre-construction work has also started. She also reiterated that the project will be completed by the start of the 2017-18 season.

“Candidly, there’s progress and work being done,” Lenti Ponsetto said. “The groundbreaking is more ceremonial. I think that’s obviously an important ceremony and we’re looking forward to it, but there is definitely work that is taking place.”