CHICAGO (CBS) — Tourism officials are applauding the possibility of locating a new sports arena near McCormick Place.
As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, Don Welsh, who heads the city-sponsored tourism group Choose Chicago, says the idea of building a new sports arena near McCormick Place for DePaul University would not only be good for the Blue Demons, but also McCormick Place itself.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
He says the stadium would spur development of restaurants and nightspots – something the area around the convention center needs.
“During the (International Manufacturing Technology) show, which was two weeks ago, you had 100,000 people in this building,” Welsh said, “and literally, when there’s 100,000 people moving in and moving out, it would be great if they had, literally, bars and restaurants and places to go to, including additional hotels.”
Indeed, the Hyatt Hotel is attached to McCormick Place is expanding right now.
The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, or McPier, has $100 million in untapped bonding authority that could be used to construct the new stadium, Hinz reported.
Hinz reports his sources also confirm that DePaul is in talks with officials about a move to the United Center. On Thursday, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reported that discussions have been underway between DePaul and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf about a move to the iconic stadium for the Blue Demons.
The Blue Demons now play at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, formerly known as Rosemont Horizon. In July, Crain’s Chicago real Estate Daily reported the team was looking for a new venue for home games, in large part because the remote facility in Rosemont makes it difficult for the team to attract top talent.
Among the rumored locations in the Crain’s article was the site of the A. Finkl & Sons Steel plant, at Southport and Armitage avenues along the Chicago River’s North Branch. The steel plant is moving to the opposite side of the city, to a new facility at 1355 E. 93rd St.
Also under consideration were the site of the Morton Salt plant at 1357 N. Elston Ave., and a DePaul parking lot on the northwest corner of Sheffield and Fullerton avenues just steps from the Fullerton Red-Brown-Purple Line ‘L’ stop, Crain’s reported in July.
But all of those sites posed zoning and transportation issues, Crain’s reported, as well as concerns about neighborhood congestion.
The men’s basketball team gained prominence in the 1970s and ’80s under legendary coaches such as Ray Meyer and his son, Joey. Under Ray Meyer, the Blue Demons made the NCAA Final Four during the 1978-79 season. The team has been played its home games at the Rosemont Horizon/Allstate Arena since 1980.