Chicago's Pier Authority Board Unanimously Approves DePaul Univ. Basketball Arena Design
The Chicago Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority BOD yesterday "voted unanimously to approve" a $7.2M contract to New Haven, Conn.-based Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects to design a new basketball arena for DePaul Univ., according to Kathy Bergen of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Pelli Clarke Pelli was one of "six firms vying for the contract." The MPEA will "own the multi-use arena and DePaul will be a tenant." The design is a "low-to-the-ground 10,000-seat structure with spaces for restaurants, coffeehouses and retail shops along its perimeter." The $173M arena will "front on Cermak Road to give easy access to fans who choose to walk from a CTA Green Line station expected to open a couple of blocks to the west in late 2014, two years before the planned arena opening." From Cermak, pedestrians will "get a view of the sunken arena floor and the scoreboard." Many "back-house functions, from locker rooms to media facilities, also will be below-ground." City officials "want to build the arena by late 2016" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 9/23). AECOM's K.C.-based sports practice will team with Pelli Clarke Pelli in designing the venue. AECOM is the same firm designing the $160M renovation at the Univ. of Illinois' State Farm Center -- formerly Assembly Hall. Thornton-Tomasetti will serve as the DePaul project’s structural engineer (Don Muret, Staff Writer). In Chicago, David Roeder notes the design features "a sloping roof that includes skylights." MPEA officials said that the design "will be tweaked based on dealings with neighborhood groups, whose members have worried about how the arena and potential crowds will fit in." But they added that the concept "already addresses key concerns" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/24). Also in Chicago, Danny Ecker reported DePaul and the MPEA each are "slated to contribute" $70M to the project, while the city is "expected to chip in" $33M in tax increment financing funds "to acquire the land." The project has "drawn jeers from skeptics that call it an unnecessary subsidy for the school's basketball efforts" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 9/23).