Building new, state-of-the-art sports stadiums at universities tend to cause controversy everywhere, from Miami to Seattle. No matter how many millions or billions of dollars the team or university provide, the city almost always has to foot some of the bill.
There are some devoted fans who relish the chance to pay the exorbitant ticket prices so they can watch their favorite teams in an up-to-date stadium that may now have seats that warm their delicate bottoms or a futuristic scoreboard that can show what’s happening in 3D so you don’t even have to look at the field.
And there are those citizens who don’t know a baseball from a field goal post, who believe the city’s money should be going to much more practical purposes like fixing pothole-filled streets or building cheap housing for low-income families.
Heated debate lasts for months leading up to the decision, which usually ends in favor of constructing the stadium. There are a few more grumblings post-decision, then the public grudgingly accepts the fact that there will be a huge oval-shaped, or perhaps a rectangular-shaped, structure plopped down somewhere within city limits.
In all seriousness, there is always going to be contention because a new stadium is never a necessity for cities, especially those that are particularly strapped for cash. On the other hand, constructing new and beautiful buildings does create new jobs, brings in more tourism and perhaps even new residents. That is the main reason why complaints over the issue generally die down pretty quickly.
In Chicago, however, grudging acceptance has absolutely no place in the decision by the city to help fund a $173 million basketball arena for DePaul University at McCormick Place, south of the Loop.
Instead, complete and utter outrage dominates discussion on the decision—as it should.
There is, unquestionably, no reason why the city should be helping to pay for this ludicrous project.
Before you say, “Hey Joaquin, ludicrous is a pretty strong word. Maybe you should tone it down a bit, you emotional twit,” let me point a few things out.
First off, the new stadium would be about 40 minutes from DePaul’s campus, which is roughly the same time it takes to get to their current stadium in Rosemont. This wouldn’t help DePaul’s dreadful attendance numbers—they’ve averaged 2,900 fans in a 10,000 seat arena the past three seasons—at all because many students still wouldn’t be willing to make the long commute.
And why would they anyways?
The Blue Demons are an awful basketball team. Out of their last 90 conference games in the Big East they have won seven.
Seven conference wins in five years.
If seven wins is all it takes to get a brand new stadium, my rec league team should be playing in Madison Square Garden.
With that being said, the United Center (you know, the giant arena that hosts the Bulls and the Blackhawks or something like that) offered DePaul a ten-year contract to host the basketball team for free. For free!
Not only that, it is significantly closer to campus than the proposed stadium. But DePaul rejected the offer.
To put it in perspective for Loyola students, that is similar to you turning down free rent for a three-bedroom apartment one block away from Lake Shore Campus for your entire college career and instead buying an exorbitantly expensive studio in Lincoln Park. You just don’t do it. Common sense.
But the main reason my use of the word ludicrous is justified happens to be because of the two-faced mayor who currently dictates our city.
On July 24, City Council unanimously approved spending $33 million to help construct the new stadium.
The very same day, Chicago Public Schools announced that it was cutting its budget by $68 million which meant that 2,100 people would lose their jobs and as many as 49 schools would close.
Oh, the irony.
In essence, the very money that Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city didn’t have to help struggling schools magically appeared so a private university could have a shiny new toy.
We gotta have our basketball.
Who cares if some little girl gets killed by a stray bullet because she now has to walk through a dangerous neighborhood to get to a school much farther from her home?
Who cares if a once-smart young boy starts getting mixed up in some neighborhood gang activities because he has nowhere to go after he gets his bare-minimum education at the local middle school?
It appears our mayor does not. He’d rather see a crappy basketball team lose games in an unnecessary arena.
So I’ll stand by my word choice. Actually I’ll add one more.
Abominable, Mr. Mayor.