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Basketball Thu Nov 29 2012

DePaul Basketball's Relevance May Hinge on Arena Choice

dt-1.common.streams.StreamServer.cls.jpegFor some, DePaul men's basketball brings to mind a storied history -- legendary graduates like George Mikan and Mark Agguire, the notable father-and-son coaching duo of Ray and Joey Meyer, and a streak of success in the 1970s and 1980s. But for those born after 1985, the name DePaul is more synonymous with futility. Since 1991, the Blue Demons have just one NCAA tournament victory in only four appearances. Their mid-aught move to the Big East brought them all the notoriety afforded to major-conference doormats, and their coaching hires have been uninspired, unsuccessful, and uncreative. And though it's only year three of Oliver Purnell's tenure, things aren't exactly looking up.

Though on-court issues are certainly to blame for DePaul's continued failure, the program has recently been dogged by a major logistical issue: their home court. Rosemont's Allstate Arena has been the team's home since 1980, but the upcoming expiration of their lease (after 2015) has raised a fairly obvious question. Does it make sense for DePaul to play their games outside the city of Chicago, 25-30 minutes from their Lincoln Park campus? According to recent reports, it seems the school is anxious to move back into Chicago.

So where will they play? If Jerry Reinsdorf and Rocky Wirtz have any say, the United Center. According to the original report in Crain's Chicago Business, the United Center ownership offered DePaul free rent for a decade, access to the Chicago Bulls' locker room for all home games, the opportunity to hang banners, and a team store inside the arena. Despite the sweet pot being peddled by the United Center, DePaul may prefer their own smaller arena near McCormick Place.

Despite the excitement DePaul fans must feel about the prospect of home games somewhere in the vicinity of campus, it's clear that the welfare of Blue Demons basketball will have nothing to do with where the team plays. The United Center may offer the benefit of association with an NBA team, but it seems that Reinsdorf and Wirtz don't have DePaul's interests in mind, and just don't want another arena to threaten the United Center's hold on major events in the city. In other words, United Center ownership will happily let DePaul fill 30% of their seats for sixteen games a year in exchange for a continued monopoly on wintertime Dave Matthews Band concerts.

Photo by Associated Press/Ed Reinke

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