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The [Tuesday] Papers

"DePaul's debut basketball season in the South Loop has been rough - the team is currently at risk of finishing dead last in the Big East standings for the eighth time in the last decade. But tough competition, injuries and streaky offense aren't the only ghosts to follow the Blue Demons to Wintrust Arena," the DePaulia reports.

Since moving from a cavernous 17,000 seats at Allstate to a cozy 10,000 at Wintrust, DePaul's men's basketball team is still struggling to fill the stands, continuing to rely heavily upon ranked opponents and traveling fans to draw sizable crowds.

Through DePaul's home game against Creighton on Feb. 7, the Blue Demons had drawn an average of 2,993 people to their games, including two that saw fewer than 1,000 people, according to attendance numbers obtained by The DePaulia through a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) from the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (commonly known as "McPier"), the quasi-governmental agency that partnered with the university to build and operate Wintrust.

Despite expectations that bringing the Blue Demons into the city would attract more fans to home games, attendance at Wintrust has seen just a modest uptick with only three games eclipsing half capacity (about 5,000), including Saturday's game against Marquette. Last season at Allstate, DePaul saw some of the lowest attendance numbers in program history, averaging less than 2,000 in turnstile attendance.

In other words, the projections used in large part to justify building the Wintrust Arena - through the use of a TIF shell game - were as badly off as the so-called critics (in this case, sentient beings with bullshit detectors) predicted they would be. Let's read on.

Turnstile attendance refers to the number of people who actually show up to each game. Attendance figures reported in the final box scores at DePaul games refer to paid attendance, which measures the number of people who bought or received free tickets whether or not they actually enter the arena on game day.

Through Creighton's visit to Wintrust on Feb. 7, the Blue Demons are averaging just under 6,000 in paid attendance, another modest increase from Allstate where they averaged under 5,500 in paid attendance.

I'd venture to say that unless DePaul turns its program around, that number is likely to drop in the proceeding years as the novelty of the new arena wears off. At least that's typically what has happened at new arenas and stadiums the world over.

Early estimates calculated by HVS, a New York City based sports and entertainment consulting firm hired by McPier when the Wintrust project began, projected DePaul's men's basketball team would account for less than 50 percent of annual turnstile attendance at Wintrust. The firm projected an average attendance of 9,500 at 16 DePaul men's basketball home games, totaling 152,000 of the arena's 370,000 projected attendees.

DePaul's athletic director, Jean Lenti Ponsetto, said DePaul had nothing to do with that projection, and it was never a target for the university.

Don't blame us, we had nothing to do with the mayor's propaganda!


Let us now interrupt to recall a Tribune report from 2016:

"After enduring 15 years of shrinking convention attendance and persistent budget difficulties, the government agency that owns Chicago's sprawling McCormick Place convention center is trying to outgrow its problems through a $650 million expansion.

"The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, known as McPier, is betting that the project now under construction - a second hotel and an arena to showcase DePaul University's basketball team - will draw more conventions, attract sports fans and transform a barren section of Chicago into a vibrant entertainment district. City and McPier officials predict the expansion will bring $250 million in new spending to the area each year.

"But the Tribune found that McPier's formula for success is based on a series of optimistic and risky predictions.

"The $250 million figure comes from a McPier-funded study that assumes DePaul fans will fill almost all of the arena's 10,000 seats for games - nearly tripling the team's recent average attendance."

In other words:

"It was a dumb idea when it was proposed, it was a dumb idea when they approved it and it will be a dumb idea in the future," said Marc Ganis, a Chicago consultant who works on stadiums.


And what did DePaul have to say about it at the time?

"DePaul's president, the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, agreed that the private university would help build the arena and become its main tenant. Building such a facility was not one of the legal uses for McPier's newly available state construction bond money, but legislators in Springfield loosened the law at McPier's request.

"E-mails obtained by the Tribune show that Reilly and Mooney also floated the idea of incorporating a casino, a long-debated idea for Chicago that has not won state approval. One email from Mooney stated that Holtschneider had told him DePaul was 'okay in co-locating with a casino.'

"A DePaul spokeswoman confirmed that Holtschneider, when asked, said he 'would not oppose a facility located adjacent to the arena but would oppose gambling located within the arena.'"

So maybe that's the end game.


Finally, from that Trib article:

"A DePaul spokeswoman said the school expects attendance to increase because the new arena will be more accessible to students, alumni and fans.

"In addition to its optimistic predictions about DePaul's basketball attendance, the HVS study assumes 1,800 new hotel rooms, even though only the 1,200-room Marriott has won full city approval and begun construction.

"The study also found that more than half of the firm's estimated $250 million in new spending is money that otherwise would have been spent elsewhere in Chicago. Just $108 million would come from outside the city - a detail Emanuel's office omitted from a news release touting the project.

"Experts agreed that new spending in the neighborhood will likely divert money from other Chicago neighborhoods."


Now, back to the current-day DePaulia:

"Thomas Hazinski, the managing director at HVS and author of the feasibility study, did not return the DePaulia's request for an interview."

Thomas Hazinski, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.




The DePaulia:

"McPier projected 38,000 in turnstile attendance at DePaul men's basketball home games in the months of November, December, January and February and 9,500 in March (only one game).

"DePaul only played three games in November (including one exhibition game) and February - hitting 38,000 monthly fans would require all three to exceed capacity."


One more highlight, and then I urge you to go read the rest, there's a lot more.

"When DePaul's lump-sum payment of $82.5 million was due in June 2016, the university funneled money from the School of Music's project to build new facilities. "



Credit where due: Written by Shane René, with contributions from Conner McEleney, Ryan Witry, Wahaj Khan and Demarco Trammell. Graphics by Ally Zacek.


P.S.: Video of the Wintrust groundbreaking from DePaul Athletics.


New on the Beachwood today . . .

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Academic, Two Feet, Absofacto, Machine Head, LP, Davy Knowles, Coin, A Day To Remember, Bronco, Noel Gallagher, and Joe Satriani.


Catching up with . . .

Last Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: John Maus, Porches, Lil Xan, Wallows, Jeezy, Architects, Robert Plant, Steve Winwood, Majid Jordan, Portugal. The Man, and Screeching Weasel.


On This Day In . . .

2012: Mayor Daley's son Patrick had a hidden interest in a sewer-inspection company whose business with the City of Chicago rose sharply while he was an owner.


2013: A Robin Kelly victory lap from the Beachwood's superior pundit machine.


2014: Aldermanic pot folly; Chicago Stategate; the doubly horrible former Tribune reporter, and more!


2015: Rahm's Next Job. (Rated F for Funny.)


2015: Rahmfeld. (Rated VF for Very Funny.)




A post shared by Adam Lucarelli (@adamlucarelli) on



Art Fraud Bust.

By The Chicago Division Of The U.S. Postal Inspection Service.



CPD Internal Affairs FOIA.


Lathan & Watkins Makes History With $3 Billion In Revenues.

Why the law, dad? Because it puts us into everything.


Subscription-Based News Models Will 'End In Tears.'


A sampling.

Amazon Made $5.6 Billion in Profits Last Year and Reportedly Paid Zero American Dollars in Federal Taxes.


Do Not Ask the Prime Minister About Her Sex Life During Interviews.


The Beachwood Tronc Line: Cool aid.


Posted on February 27, 2018

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
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SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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