DePaul Considering New Basketball Arena Closer To Main Chicago Campus
DePaul Univ. could be in the "beginning stages of relocating its men's basketball team to an arena closer to the school's Lincoln Park campus in Chicago,” according to Scott Powers of ESPN CHICAGO. A draft of the school's ‘18 strategic plan reveals that DePaul would like "to seek opportunities to bring men's basketball back into the city." The plan is “expected to be voted on at the next board of trustees' meeting.” The Blue Demons have played at the Allstate Arena, “in Rosemont, Ill., since 1980.” The school has won more nearly 70% of its games at the arena, but the venue's location "hasn't created much of a homecourt advantage.” Powers noted that an arena in Chicago “could be more attractive to local recruits and improve student attendance.” DePaul averaged 9,413 fans at home Big East games this season (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 3/28). The Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton said, “It's a good start and I think that’s all this is, a start. This program has a long, long way to go to be a high-level contender, to be the powerhouse that everyone says it could be, the woken, sleeping giant. Some advantage is the fact that the Big East is just going to get easier to play in a couple of years based on the reconfiguration, teams leaving for the ACC. But then again, it’s just a start. Let’s put a shovel in the ground first and see where it goes from there.” The Chicago Tribune's David Haugh added, “It would be great. You need an identity, start to have a style of play and that would certainly contribute to it” (“Chicago Tribune Live,” Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 3/27).
EXTREME MAKEOVER: In Tampa, Greg Auman noted the Sun Dome, where the Univ. of South Florida plays its basketball games, is nearing the completion of a $35M makeover. The arena is “barely recognizable with a new lower bowl, fixed second level with concourses beneath, baseline-to-baseline club level on one side, 10 loge suites on the other and center-hung scoreboard.” USF men’s basketball coach Stan Heath said, “From a recruiting standpoint, it's a slam dunk. It's going to make a world of difference in our recruiting and our program going forward.” The school plans to hold “a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony May 2” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/29).