The last twenty years have been, to put it incredibly mildly, difficult for the fans and students of DePaul. Over that span the Blue Demons have gone 278-354 with a grand total of two NCAA appearances. To ask a student to pay for a ticket and watch a team with that kind of track-record is a tough enough sell; now try and tell that student to travel over 15 miles to get to the game. Yea, it ain’t gonna happen. DePaul officials know this and have been exploring their options for a while. Well, according to this Chicago Sun-Times report, the exploration may be just about over.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is reportedly set to announce plans for a brand new $300M arena to be built at McCormick Place, which is approximately 7 miles away from DePaul University campus. The school is expected to pay for a third of the costs, while taxpayer and naming-rights revenue will cover the rest of the bill. There is no guarantee that Emanuel’s plan will be approved (there are plenty of concerns raised by other local politicians in the article) but if it does pass, it’s one step in the right direction for the floundering program. The new arena should attract more students and recruits. DePaul will also see a sizable increase in funds thanks to the new Big East media contract with Fox.
However, this is only one part of the equation for the Blue Demons. The other and much more essential part is to field a good basketball team. Oliver Purnell has a reputation of rebuilding to the point of respectability; that flat out has not yet happened in his stint with DePaul. And it does not matter how beautiful, expensive, or entertaining a sports venue is, if the home team does not win the fans will not come. Just ask the Miami Marlins. While it’s clear DePaul feels a new arena will mean better recruits, the team needs a coaching staff that can seal the deal with said recruits. The question remains – is Oliver Purnell that coach?