As a DePaul alum (class of ’99), and former men’s basketball ticket holder, let me give you the low down on my beloved alma maters basketball program.
Nothing, because the team got beat last week by lowly Gardner Webb and they play in a barn next to an airport 18 miles out of town.
For years I had driven to that barn (Allstate Arena, nice for minor league hockey though), to watch abysmal DePaul basketball. Last year was the first year I had missed attending at least one home game during the season in over a decade.
Today I read in Crain’s that the United Center (where DePaul at least once a year versus their bigger opponents last decade), had offered ten years worth of free rent and incentives for season ticket holders. I can tell you first hand, season ticket holders never got jack from Allstate Arena.
But it seems DePaul has their sights set on a new area near McCormick Place (controlled by McPier), and even several politicians are involved.
First off, DePaul needs to play better basketball to be worthy of a new gym.
Second, undergraduate tuition at DePaul is over $ 30,000 a year, I think they can afford to buy their own place to play.
Third, there is a nice existing gym on the Lincoln Park campus (McGrath Arena, inside Sullivan Athletic Center), that holds around 3,500 fans and the men’s basketball team just played two exhibition games there.
This on campus facility is good enough for the more talented and NCAA post season perennial women’s basketball team, why can’t the men try it out for a year? Trust me, people aren’t knocking each other over for men’s basketball tickets. They are not cheap either.
I have to go Rick Pitino here and say, Ray Meyer is not walking through that door, Tyrone Corbin is not walking through that door and neither is Mark Aquirre.
Big time basketball has passed by DePaul a long time ago; they are a team in a large market that is run like a small time school. The Big East Conference is too big and too east for them.
DePaul did very well in the old Conference USA (including a tie for the regular season league championship in 2003-2004), which was of mid level, Midwestern schools. At this point they would fit in somewhere like the Horizon League, Mid America Conference or even the Missouri Valley.
I know some people believe athletics starts with facilities but it also starts with having the right people, players and administration in place and they don’t. Academically DePaul stands alone in this town, no doubt, their education is premier but the athletics by and large aren’t on that level.
They are not Notre Dame or Marquette athletically, honestly, they are slightly better than Loyola Chicago at this point, who built the beautiful Joe Gentile Center a few years back on their own Rogers Park campus with fundraised dollars.
DePaul has done a tremendous job transforming the Lincoln Park campus from an El train stop school to a destination of higher learning. My mother (class of ‘74), was witness to the early days from the transformation of the old St Joseph seminary to the sprawling campus within a neighborhood it is today.
But athletics is different; yes we alums are proud of our Blue Demons and the history that basketball teams carries. But times are different and do they really want to build a place that lacks that campus feel and access?
If it’s all about a nice place to play, then just go to the United Center for free.