‘McCormick Collection’: McPier begins marketing arena for non-DePaul events

The McCormick Collection, including the DePaul basketball arena, is due to open in 2017. (Max Kleiner / The DePaulia)
The McCormick Collection, including the DePaul basketball arena, is due to open in 2017. (Max Kleiner / The DePaulia)

McPier, the agency behind Chicago’s money-making convention center, McCormick Place, released its first marketing campaign for the McCormick Collection, a multimillion dollar expansion project that includes two ritzy hotels and an event center for concerts, conventions and DePaul basketball.

Last December, DePaul agreed to pay $82.5 of the $164 million that it’s going to take to build the event center — $12.5 million more than originally planned. But with that price DePaul will use the space for only 29 events out of the year.

The 29 events will be balanced between men and women’s basketball games, graduation and convocation ceremonies and possibly DePaul’s annual music festival, Fest.

According to a Chicago Tribune article, DePaul basketball will not start using the arena until the 2017-2018 season. DePaul athletics did not confirm the opening date.

The McCormick Place Event Center, known to Chicagoans as the DePaul arena until it is officially named, will be used the rest of the year by the city to host events, concerts and all-sized trade shows and conventions.

As a tenant of the event center, DePaul will pay $25,000 per men’s basketball game and $15,000 per women’s basketball game.

According to the DePaul Athletics website, naming rights, ticket sales and revenue from DePaul athletics and the Big East conference will be used to finance construction of the arena. Tuition will not be used or affected by the arena, DePaul Athletics said. 

The event center is only one piece of the McCormick Collection. The four buildings of McCormick Place, the Hyatt Conference Center and hotel, and the Marriott Marquis Chicago hotel make up the other three pieces. The event center and Marriott hotel are scheduled to open in 2017.

A press release from 2014 said the city’s payout for the event center would be met by almost $400 million in private investment to build the Hyatt hotel, the Marriott hotel and other businesses in the entertainment district.

The McCormick Collection falls under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Elevate Chicago initiative to revitalize the convention culture in Chicago, and for good reason.

According to a 2013 press release, hotels, entertainment and businesses at McCormick Place bring in about $108 million for the city annually.

A convention can bring anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 people to a city, DePaul business professor,  Joel Whalen said. Hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and even cabbies feel the impact of a large trade show or convention.

“I think that we Chicagoans should recognize the importance of conventions to Chicago in both economic impact and prestige in the international world of business,” Whalen said.

Other cities like Los Angeles and  Orlando have been outperforming Chicago in hospitality and entertainment options, Whalen said.

Emanuel said in January 2014 that he planned to bring 55 million tourists to Chcago by 2020, compared to the 40 million visitors in 2011.

Labor Unions also turned off convention organizers, Whalen said. According to city officials,  agreements with unions in 2011  have reduced the cost for convention exhibitors and made Chicago more competitive.

According to their website, McCormick Place has booked conventions and events up through January 2016.

It is unknown whether the 29 scheduled events at the arena are flexible to basketball tournaments throughout the year.

DePaul has yet not announced its event schedule at the stadium.