DePaul arena hits $110 million in cost overruns, thanks to too-soft dirt

When last we heard from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to spend $125 million on a complex of buildings that would include a new arena for private DePaul University, it had just gotten final approval. Except that “final” is always a dangerous notion in the arena biz, something Chicago is finding out now that the price tag on the arena has soared by $110 million:

A sticking point is the “dug-in” design of the 10,000-seat arena, which places its playing floor well below ground level. That feature has pushed construction costs above the $140 million that McPier and city officials optimistically projected when they announced the project in May 2013, sources said.

Although a final price has not been set, the cost of that design, by New Haven, Conn.-based Pelli Clark Pelli, could be as much as $250 million, sources said.

Yeah, that’s not good. Apparently the problem is that nobody noticed they were going to be building the arena in soft glacial soil, which tends to cave in if you don’t shore it up with retaining walls, which is pricey. From the sound of it, McPier (the totally awesome nickname for Chicago’s Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority) will look to redesign the arena to bring down the price tag; if that doesn’t work, Crain’s Chicago Business gives precisely zero information on how the cost overruns would be covered. This was just the bestest idea ever!

[UPDATE: At least one Crain’s Chicago Business columnist does not think it was the bestest idea ever.]


3 comments on “DePaul arena hits $110 million in cost overruns, thanks to too-soft dirt

  1. Ticketmaster figures for basketball showed that Depaul had attendance of around 1,900 people per game for 17 home games. Tickets for the next Depaul game at Leigh start at around 10 dollars. Assuming that A) the arena lasts forever, B) that any ticket price paid over the ten dollars goes into paying the running costs of the arena, then it will take approximately seven hundred and seventy five years to pay for the cost of the arena through ticket sales.

    That is a hundred years older than the combined ages of the country of Germany, the Country of Italy, The United States, and Canada.

  2. DePaul currently plays at the Allstate Arena;neeRosemont Horizen.When they moved there in 1981 DePaul was the Only game in town and drew very well;17,000 per game. But times change, other teams Bears,Bulls,White Sox, and Blackhawks win championships and DePaul moves from conference to conference. Meanwhile Rosemont becomes almost obsolete;too far from Lincoln Park campus and DePaul is just another college team in town.Solution:have DePaul play at UIC pavilion(9,000 cap.) or build the arena on the site of the old Michael Reese hospital just east of new arena. Oh wait just play at UIC or United Center. They’re already built.