United Center Fails To Woo DePaul Basketball From Rosemont Despite Free Rent
Blackhawks Chair Rocky Wirtz yesterday said that DePaul Univ. has “ruled out the United Center as a possible home" for the school's men's basketball team, "turning its attention to a site near McCormick Place,” according to Kathy Bergen of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The United Center had been “offering free rent for at least 10 years, plus all ticket revenue, in an attempt to woo the team from Rosemont, where it has a rent-free deal at the Allstate Arena.” Wirtz said that the center offered resources such as Blackhawks “staff guidance" and assistance with ticket sales and advertising. Wirtz said, “We thought it would be good for the city. We thought it would be exciting. And quite frankly, we thought it would help them with their recruiting." But he said that the school “told United Center owners it preferred to work with the state-city agency that owns McCormick Place and ‘do their own private building.’” DePaul, which is “intent on moving Blue Demons games closer to its Lincoln Park and downtown facilities to increase attendance, faces additional uncertainty with the McCormick Place option because the agency that owns the convention center does not own the necessary land at this point" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/20). A DePaul official said that the school “never seriously considered the offer because the UC would not guarantee playing dates for the Blue Demons, who would have had to take a scheduling back seat to the Bulls, Blackhawks and possibly other events." A United Center source said, “Concessions and parking would have stayed with us -- no different than any other tenant. They said, ‘It’s not really rent-free. We have to pay some of our expenses, like ushers and security.’ They obviously didn’t think it was so extraordinary. They decided to turn it down to explore the McCormick Place option" (SUNTIMES.com, 3/19).