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DePaul May Get Publicly Assisted Arena At McCormick Place

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CHICAGO (CBS) — DePaul University is about to sign a publicly-assisted deal to build a nearly $300 million basketball arena near McCormick Place, CBS 2 has learned.

To finance the project, $100 million would come from the city of Chicago; $100 million would come from the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority — which runs McCormick Place and Navy Pier — and DePaul would put up $75 million. The private college would get scheduling priority and naming rights.

The proposed site of the 12,000-seat arena is in the historic Prairie Avenue District. Buildings would be demolished to make way for the new venue.

Mayor Emanuel plans to make a public announcement later this week.

An Emanuel spokesman on Monday declined to say much about the arena project, beyond suggesting it is part of a larger plan to stimulate tourism trade at McCormick.

“Mayor Emanuel has stated repeatedly that a vibrant convention industry and the thousands of jobs it supports are critical to Chicago’s economic future. When there is something to announce, we will announce it,” he said in a written statement.

“However, we can also confirm we are in discussions to create a state-of-the-art events center at McCormick Place, which would increase our ability to attract conventions and trade shows to the city, set up the city to host top-level sporting events of all kinds, and create many new opportunities for the Chicago Public Schools and its students. This will be part of a major, multi-faceted, coordinated effort to dramatically improve the convention and tourism industry in Chicago.”

Emanuel also will announce plans to build two new hotels adjacent to the convention center. A portion of those plans has been previously reported.

DePaul has been looking at options to play its home basketball games for some time now. The team currently plays its games at the Allstate arena in Rosemont.

The new arena would give the team a downtown location, closer to its two city campuses. The university has also reportedly been in talks with Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf to play home basketball games at the United Center.

The hotels are proposed to be built near the newer McCormick Place West building.

One of the hotels is set to be built between Indiana Street and Prairie Avenue. The other would be on the north side of Cermak Road.

CBS 2 was told on Monday that sale of land in that area was finalized on Friday, leading to speculation that the arena would be built in the area near the proposed hotels.

The Chicago Sun-Times first reported details of the proposed DePaul arena on Monday.

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