Wintrust Arena in 2018
|Location||200 East Cermak Road, Chicago, Illinois 60616|
|Public transit||Cermak–McCormick Place|
|Owner||Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority|
|Operator||Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority|
|Broke ground||November 16, 2015|
|Opened||October 14, 2017|
|Construction cost||$173 million|
|Architect||Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects
Moody Nolan, Inc. (architect of record)
AECOM (sports architect)
|Services engineer||IMEG Corp.|
|General contractor||Clark Construction|
|DePaul Blue Demons men's basketball (NCAA) (2017–present)
DePaul Blue Demons women's basketball (NCAA) (2017–present)
Chicago Sky (WNBA) (2018–present)
Wintrust Arena at McCormick Square, previously referred to as DePaul Arena or McCormick Place Events Center, is a 10,387 seat sports venue in Chicago's Near South Side community area that opened in 2017. It is the current home court for the men's and women's basketball teams of DePaul University and serves as an events center for McCormick Place. It also is the home of the Chicago Sky of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).
The arena was announced in May 2013, with construction planned to begin in 2014, and use expected to begin with the 2016–17 season. The start of construction was delayed to November 2015, with completion delayed until the 2017–18 season. Although DePaul had been seeking a new home arena — it used Allstate Arena in suburban Rosemont starting 1980 — it rejected a November 2012 ten-year offer to play rent free at the United Center. Instead, DePaul planned to use Allstate Arena on a recurring one-year basis until it had a new home. On November 16, 2016, DePaul and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA or "McPier") announced that the new event center at McCormick Square would be called Wintrust Arena. The announcement came after the signing of a letter of intent that contemplated a definitive 15-year sponsorship agreement between DePaul and Wintrust.
At the outset there were two different interpretations of the planned venue. ESPN has interpreted the plan as a 10,000-seat arena with a cost to tax payers of $103 million and total cost of $175 million. The Chicago Sun-Times has interpreted the plan as a 12,000-seat arena with public funding of $125 million out of a total spend $300 million.
Original 12,000-seat plan
Before the actual announcement, the arena was publicized by the Chicago Sun-Times as a 12,000-seat arena that would cost $300 million. After the announcement, the Chicago Sun-Times reported an expected 12,000 seat venue, but with $125 million coming from public funds.
Upon announcement, ESPN reported the expected cost of the 10,000-seat arena, located on Cermak Road between Indiana and Prairie Avenue, across the street from McCormick Place was $173 million. The funding will come from three sources: $70 million from the university, $70 million from a McPier bond fund and $33 million from public taxes (e.e., $103 million from public funds). It will be built to host concerts, conventions and other events in addition to DePaul Basketball games. As the building approached completion, its capacity was announced as 10,387 seats for basketball.
The decision for public participation in the funding of DePaul's athletic facility was controversial because it was announced 6 days prior to the Board of Education's decision to close 50 public schools due to a $1 billion deficit. When the Chicago City Council approved funding on July 24, 2013, the Chicago Reader reported the vote as though money was taken from the schools and spent on the arena because the spending plan included $68 million in budget cuts for the Chicago Public Schools. The Chicago Tribune revealed that the land for the project had not yet been acquired four days after the City Hall funding vote.
On November 16, 2015, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, officials from DePaul University and McCormick Place attended the ceremonial groundbreaking for the center. At the time of the groundbreaking, the construction was expected to result in a 10,000 seat venue at the corner of Cermak Road and Indiana Avenue and expected to be completed at some time in 2017. At the time, the DePaul Athletics department expected the 2017–18 DePaul Blue Demons to be able to host its season opener at the venue, but the venue was expected to double as an events center for McCormick Place. The Center was expected to create 7,400 construction jobs and 2,500 permanent jobs.
The city issued a "new construction" building permit to McPier on March 23, 2016, for the full building. Previously issued permits allowed the construction of foundations and shear walls.
After being referred to as both DePaul Arena and McCormick Place Events Center, MPEA and DePaul announced a 15-year naming rights agreement for the complex with Wintrust Financial under the name Wintrust Arena on November 16, 2016.
On July 25, 2017, MPEA announced that it had reached a five-year agreement with the Chicago Sky to play their home games at the arena starting with all 17 home games for the 2018 WNBA season after having played the previous eight seasons at Allstate Arena. The arena's first event was a concert by REO Speedwagon on September 25 that was reserved for attendees of the annual convention of the True Value hardware company. The opening ceremony was held on October 14, 2017, with the event also featuring the season-opening practices for the 2017–18 DePaul men's and women's teams. The first major public event (a concert featuring Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples) took place on October 27. By that time, the arena had been announced as the host of the Big East Women's Basketball Tournament for 2018–2020.
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- "Morning Spin: Rauner lays out rules, suggests talking points for meeting with Madigan, leaders". Chicago Tribune. November 16, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
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- "Blue Demon Freshmen Envision Historic Change". DePaul University Department of Athletics. November 18, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
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- "Wntrust Arena Open House- Saturday October 14, 2017". DePaul University. Retrieved December 10, 2017.
- Matthews, David (October 16, 2017). "DePaul Opens Wintrust Arena 'To Bring Successful Basketball Back' To City". DNAinfo. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
- "BIG EAST Signs Multi-Year Deal With Wintrust Arena To Host Women's Basketball Tournament" (Press release). Big East Conference. October 17, 2017. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
- DePaul University Official Website
- DePaul Blue Demons Official Athletics Website
- Wintrust Arena-Home Court Chicago Website