Numbers Don’t Add Up For DePaul Arena’s Naming Rights

Today’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) So, Mayor Rahm Emanuel reportedly has a $300 million plan to build new basketball arena at McCormick Place and bring the DePaul Blue Demons back into the city after more than 30 years in Rosemont.

But is this place a dream stadium, or just a dream?

And beyond that, could it end up as a nightmare for taxpayers?

On Monday afternoon, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Emanuel is expected to announce this week his plans to construct a 12,000-seat arena along with two mega hotels on McPier property in the hopes of expanding convention and meeting business in Chicago.

According to the Sun-Times, sources said that the tentative plan is for the arena’s hefty $300 million tab to be divided up among DePaul, a naming rights sponsor, and taxpayer money that would come from a McPier Bond fund and possibly (in other words, surely) city tax-increment financing.

The newspaper reported that DePaul, taxpayers and a corporate sponsor could each be responsible for paying $100 million apiece. It’s startling enough that Emanuel would ask Chicago taxpayers to fund an arena for DePaul hoops when the city just refused to assist the Cubs with the renovation of Wrigley Field. But what really struck me is that the mayor apparently seems to think he really could nab $100 million for this new arena’s naming rights. Because I just have a difficult time seeing that happening.

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