May 16, 2013
CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans today for a large-scale tourism and economic development project near McCormick Place, one that includes construction of a 10,000-seat, multipurpose events center to serve as the new home for the DePaul Blue Demons.
In addition to hosting home games for DePaul men’s and women’s basketball teams and serving as a practice facility, the events center will support other high-profile functions for both DePaul and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), including DePaul graduation ceremonies and special events, as well as Chicago’s convention-related business.
The events center is planned for a site north of Cermak Road between Indiana and Prairie avenues with the construction cost to be shared evenly between DePaul and the MPEA.
Construction on the facility is targeted to begin in 2014, and it is expected to open in time for the 2016-2017 college basketball season, accommodating 17 men’s games and probably 10 women’s. Since 1980, the Blue Demons men’s basketball team has primarily played home games at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.
“Establishing the McCormick Place entertainment district along with the redevelopment of Navy Pier is a vital step in tapping the full potential of the city of Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “These projects represent a major economic engine for Chicago, injecting millions of dollars into our local economy and creating thousands of construction and full-time jobs. From the moment, I took office I have focused on attracting people to Chicago and showing off this wonderful city, and these two projects will leave a lasting impact on the city for generations.”
The McCormick Place location serves not only DePaul and its city campus locations, but also is convenient via public transportation and major expressways making it accessible to all of Chicagoland, including an estimated 103,000 DePaul alumni.
“This facility will bring the Blue Demons much closer to the largest segment of our fan base and will add significantly to the momentum that our basketball programs have been building in recent years,” said the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul.
“We are pleased that we can assist the MPEA and Chicago achieve their tourism and neighborhood revitalization goals in the process. It is but one of the many partnerships that DePaul has formed in recent years in our effort to fulfill our commitment to strengthen the connection between DePaul and the city of Chicago,” Holtschneider said.
As part of DePaul’s strategic plan, this events center will bring the men’s basketball program back to the city of Chicago. The new facility strengthens DePaul’s connection to the city and expands its investment in the community. The university has been a partner on a number of revitalizations with the city including the development of the Lincoln Park neighborhood in the 1970s and the transformation of the Richard M. and Maggie C. Daley Building at 14 East Jackson. Additional projects include the preservation and renovation of the Goldblatt’s building in the early 1990s in the South Loop and the development of the University Center in early 2000s.
In addition, the university’s legal clinics, community music school, children’s theatre and the DePaul Art Museum, DePaul has recently formed alliances with Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Chicago History Museum, Facing History and Ourselves, Catholic Theological Union, Gordon Tech College Prep and Lake View High School — all with the intention of finding ways to strengthen the university’s connections with the Chicago area.
“The proposed multipurpose events center will immediately improve our ability to attract new shows. And it will help revitalize the entire neighborhood, creating jobs and economic opportunity in the process — all of which benefits the entire city and region. It’s a true public benefit to have DePaul as a private partner in this venture,” said MPEA CEO Jim Reilly.
The new facility will include no fewer than six locker rooms, including dedicated locker rooms for the DePaul men’s and women’s basketball programs, two locker rooms for officials and visitors locker rooms; training rooms with suitable conditioning equipment and hydro-therapy stations; offices for coaches; sound system, video, scoreboard and ribbon-board; wireless and TV capabilities, including TV truck access points; media, hospitality and interview space; concessions space; auxiliary box office; merchandise and gift shop; and internal and external signage.
DePaul will fund this investment through a combination of sources, including ticket sales, naming rights, revenues generated by DePaul Athletics and Big East Conference. It is expected that funds also will be generated from those most committed to the university’s athletic programs.
“The DePaul Blue Demons have had a long and storied tradition in college basketball,” said James M. Jenness, chair of DePaul’s board of trustees. “We are looking for our new home at McCormick Place to play a key role in the future of that tradition.”