The DePaul Arena in the Prairie District: Can five thousand smackers make a difference?

The DePaul Arena in the Prairie District:  Can five thousand smackers make a difference?
Screamin' Demons photo/DePaul

So everyone seems to be wondering something in the South Loop.  Can $5000 change the minds of those who don't like the idea of the new DePaul Basketball (and other events) Arena coming into the quiet historic Prairie Avenue neighborhood of old homes and expensive condos just north of Cermak near McCormick Place?

DePaul University, who knows there's a lot of skepticism about how the stadium is going to be financed with TIF money, not to mention much unhappiness in the neighborhood about its new structure--a new urban home for the famed Blue Demons--possibly laying waste to the area in various ways, sent more than the Screamin' Demons (the Blue Demons pep band) to the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance block party last Saturday.  They also laid 5,000 bucks down on the table and became one of the sponsors of the event.

This raised eyebrows.

And it irritated some people in the neighborhood a great deal.  One resident tweeted stuff like this:  "5k paid to PDNA doesn't absolve plunder..."; and "5k paid to PDNA won't absolve DePaul Athletics from it's sin against the South Loop."

Strong stuff.

"We're just trying to meet new neighbors," said Dave Corzine, DePaul's Assistant Director to the Athletic Director for Community Outreach in an article posted on the official website of DePaul University Athletics.  "Hopefully, it's going to be something that's going to work out great for everybody involved.  We just want to get to know people and let people get to know us."

He went on to say that he just can't get the Screamin' Demons out in the community enough because everyone loves them.  They're so "energetic and fun," he said.  He also said he thinks the pep band represents the university as a whole--and the athletic department--as well as anyone can.

So there you have it.  The question, of course, is this.  Can five grand--not to mention the Screamin' Demons--turn the whole Prairie District neighborhood around?  Or will some still not want to deal with an athletic stadium in their midst?

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