Chicago is still building that $125m arena for DePaul, in case you were wondering

Heather McCoy of KUCI, whose show I’ll be making my weekly appearance on at 8 am Pacific today, asked me yesterday what was up with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s much-ridiculed plan to build a $125 million basketball arena for private DePaul University. The answer, it turns out: Damn the ridicule, full speed ahead.

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority board has approved the purchase of the final land for a planned entertainment district in the South Loop around McCormick Place. … The city is contributing $55 million in tax increment financing to McPier for the project, of which $26 million will go for hotel and ABC building land and $29 million toward hotel construction. McPier paid $14 million for the remaining land needed for the DePaul arena.

The state legislature approved the plan last spring, then the city council followed suit with a “very quiet” vote in favor last July. Now that the land has been acquired, construction can begin, and Chicago will at last have the 10,000-seat arena that it’s been lacking for all those concerts by bands that are too big for 5,000-seat venues but can’t fill 20,000-seat venues. In other words: Nickelback, please never retire.

11 comments on “Chicago is still building that $125m arena for DePaul, in case you were wondering

  1. Chicago HAS that 10,000 seat arena–the UIC Pavilion. Been there for years, hosting U2, Madonna, The Grateful Dead and many, many more. In a town full of fiscal silliness, this is an all-timer.

  2. @Mark – I wouldn’t call what the city of Chicago does with regard to its fiscal affairs as “silliness.” A more apt description would be an image of a giant hand with all fingers closed toward the palm, except for it’s middle finger clearly extended towards taxpayers.

    Oh, and Neil, the city council is nothing more than a “rubber stamp,” to whatever the mayor wants or decrees…going back to Daley. Sure, there are a literal handful of so-called “independent” council members (alderman), but even they tow the company line when it suits them (when the mayor threatens them in some roundabout way) and vote for whatever the mayor wants.

    The Chicago city council would do the old Soviet Union politburo proud.

  3. This one appears to be Rahm feeling his oats. It looks great for DePaul but it’s a risk to tent pole a development with an arena that might only get 40-50 big crowds per year.

  4. Mark: Thanks, I knew I was forgetting something other than the Horizon…

    Dan: I’m all too aware of how the Chicago city council works, or doesn’t. Good thing the Reader is still around to take note of these things, anyway, even if the dailies can’t be much bothered.

  5. Let’s not forget that the Sears Centre up in Hoffman Estates (Northwest Suburbs) seats 11,800 for concerts (and 8-10K for sports). Chicago’s not running short on arena facilities.

  6. Supposedly this arena is needed so Chicago/McCormick Place can land the mega-conventions, which require congregation spaces of this size. DePaul and Nickelback just fell into the good fortune of also wanting an arena of this size. Though based on recent DePaul attendance they probably could have moved their games to a local junior high and been alright.

    I’d make a snarky comment about the Sears Centre, but at this point that’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

  7. I’m about to crack open my copy of Heywood Sanders’ “Convention Center Follies.” Will be very interested to see what he has to say about the notion that a 10,000-seat arena near a convention center pays off…

  8. “In a town full of fiscal silliness, this is an all-timer.”

    Nope, can’t see anything ever beating the parking deal.

  9. The current mayor brought the parking deal to Daley in first place. It’s the reason it was so important he became mayor.

  10. “So what is this going to do to the Allstate Arena?”

    And to Sears Centre.