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Chicago, DePaul set staggering new heights in sports welfare chutzpah

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Bob Cook, May 29, 2013.

  1. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    I really, really, really don't want this to devolve into partisan bickering, but I thought this piece was interesting on the hubris of using DePaul basketball as a centerpiece of $100 million in city funding toward a new arena by McCormick Place, as well as a lesson in how teams goose their attendance figures.


    DePaul University's men's basketball team would have to more than triple its annual attendance to meet the estimates made by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (McPier) for a new event center near McCormick Place.

    Attendance at Blue Demons home games in suburban Rosemont has averaged around 2,900 over the past three years, according to Allstate Arena ticket records obtained by Crain's. That's about 35 percent of the school's reported numbers and 30 percent of what McPier officials are projecting for the new arena. The city plans to spend more than $100 million in tax money on the facility to give the near South Side an economic jolt.

    This past season, the official average number of fans that went to DePaul home games at Allstate Arena was even lower: 2,610 based on the Ticketmaster scan system, which tracks exactly how many people come inside.

    That is far below DePaul's reported average home game attendance of 7,938 over those 16 home games. Over the course of the entire season, the school reported total attendance at Allstate Arena at 127,020. The actual attendance was 41,771.

    The discrepancy comes from the Blue Demons counting tickets rather than people. Their reported attendance, said an athletic department spokesman, includes "a couple thousand" tickets the school buys for each game to block out seats for students, who can go to any DePaul athletic event "free of charge" if they pay a quarterly $25 student activities fee. Many of those students, however, don't go to the games. The school also counts complimentary tickets given to charities and other groups toward their attendance number each game.

  2. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    Speaking of, I didn't know the NFL is a non-profit in the eyes of the IRS.


    Also, DePaul's new arena is 50 blocks from campus? Really!?!
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    That's a hell of a lot closer than the current arena.
  4. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    If they renew the eligibility of Dallas Comegys, I will go.
  5. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    Didn't realize that. Sorry.
  6. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Just noting that it's par for the course there.
  7. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Those attendance figures are great. We should all remember it the next time someone cites attendance figures. I think there was some claim on here not long ago that WNBA games average 7,400.
  8. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    The local D-I program cracks me up. For basketball and baseball, they give tickets sold and actual (through the turnstiles) attendance. For football, they only give tickets sold. So for nonconference games, you get official attendance of 70,000 when the stadium is half empty.
  9. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    The current attendance figures would fit comfortably in Alumni Hall, the on-campus gym DePaul dumped for the then-Rosemont Horizon when the program was an NCAA tournament regular in the early 1980s. They're still in the newly reconstituted Big East, but overall as a program, at least in Chicago, DePaul has no more visibility and buzz than UIC or Loyola.

    Maybe they hope that students will go to game at McPier, but that's not any more accessible than Rosemont. In fact, it's the same problem -- no el stop right by the facility. Anyway, with so many DePaul students being commuters, if they weren't driving to Rosemont, they aren't likely to make their way to McPier, either.
  10. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the link, Bob ... a good read.

    A couple points:

    1. It's a joke that DePaul still plays its games out at the Rosemont Horizon, er, Allstate Arena. Maybe in the late 1970s and 1980s when they were a national powerhouse, they could come close to filling it. Now? As the article notes, students won't go out there even with free tickets and a shuttle.

    2. Alumni Hall used to be a great place to catch a game -- they had a few men's games in there early each season if I recall -- and it was on a great campus (provided you didn't have to park a car there). Do they still do that with the new venue?

    3. Cooking attendance figures is pretty common at other schools, too. I know the University of Iowa used to do it for both men's and women's basketball, and it certainly happens at fringe D-I schools such as the University of Idaho.

    4. "McPier" is a great way to describe the proposed facility.
  11. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    Of course, DePaul is just a convenient foil. The idea of having an arena connected to McCormick Place is to attract large conventions that want to be able to gather all (or most) of their attendees in one spot (as other cities that have enclosed stadiums connected to their convention centers can do), and as a jumping-off point to build more hotels in the immediate area. There are many reasons Chicago is losing conventions, but part of the higher cost of being there is that McCormick Place is convenient to nothing, so you have to spend a lot of money on transportation and other things for attendees so they can get from downtown to the area.
  12. heyabbott

    heyabbott Well-Known Member

    The NFL is non-profit like the Tea Party is not political
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