As Chicago closes 50 of its public schools due to a budget shortfall, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to spend $100 million of taxpayer money on a new stadium for a DePaul college basketball team that won seven total Big East conference games the last five years and averaged around 2,600 people per home game last season.
On Friday, $300 million project took one more step to getting authorization when it advanced to the Illinois Senate floor.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, what has been described as “Christmas-tree bill” made it to the the full Senate floor by a 10-5 vote. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) also supports the bill.
As ESPN noted, Depaul is a private school that reportedly turned down a rent free offer to play at the United Center. In addition, the “arena would be a 30-minute train ride from campus” in a city with “longstanding budget woes” and “an even longer-standing reputation for corrupting taxpayer money in the face of urban decay.”
As Sports Illustrated reported, “city officials have claimed the arena will break even in the first year of operations and then be profitable going forward,” but that is based on an assumption that DePaul will draw “more than 9,000 fans a game.”
That is “an increase of more than 1,000 per game from existing ‘ticket sales,'” which was used in the estimates instead of the number of people who actually showed up, which is more reflective given fans who attend the games also buy concessions and pay for parking.
Marc Ganis, a local stadium expert, said the deal was an example “lunacy.”
DePaul will join with the so-called “Catholic 7” basketball schools along with three others to form the new Big East conference next season in basketball.