Working for months to leave Allstate Arena and Rosemont, DePaul University is the closest it has been to finding a new home for its men’s basketball team in Chicago.
According to a Chicago Sun Times report, plans are underway for a $173 million, 10,000-seat arena at McCormick Place. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to make an official announcement this week.
In the proposal, a third of the cost would come from the school itself, a third from taxpayers and the final portion would be from a naming rights deal. From the $100 million share of taxpayer money, some will reportedly be taken from existing untapped bonding authority.
The stadium would be built with adjoining “mega hotels” on the McPier property and there are rumors a casino would be part of the package. The new establishments would be built in hopes of creating an entertainment epicenter that could revitalize businesses in the South Side of Chicago.
Mayor Emanuel has long supported the construction of a new home for DePaul men’s basketball, stating last year, “We’re going to work together to look at Chicago being a home for DePaul’s Blue Demons. I want to bring this to a conclusion that is successful for them and successful for the city of Chicago.”
The distance of Allstate Arena from DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus has been cited for years as a cause of waning attendance at men’s basketball home games. DePaul has been clear in its efforts that a move closer to campus would bolster fan support and recognition in the city of Chicago.
Earlier this year, DePaul turned down a deal to play its home games at the United Center for 10 years free of rent. Though offered a host of resources, DePaul would still need to share space with the Bulls and Blackhawks, rather than occupying an arena they could own.
Set to enter a new, revamped Big East Conference – with new additions Butler, Creighton and Xavier – DePaul building a new stadium could revitalize its program and start a new chapter in its basketball legacy. Previously a powerhouse at Allstate Arena (originally Rosemont Horizon), DePaul has struggled against Big East competition. The Blue Demons have recorded six conference wins in the past three seasons, finishing 11-21 in 2012-2013.