Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A tradeoff: Blue Demons for Cubs? That might be Rosemont’s unreal dream

DePaul University is back in the sports news these days, and not because the Blue Demons basketball program is anywhere near good enough to play in the NCAA tourney.
ALLSTATE ARENA: May soon be history

For it seems that the university informed the people at the United Center this week that they’re not interested in playing the men’s basketball games in the arena used by the Chicago Bulls, or any kind of auxiliary facility that would double as a training facility for the NBA franchise.

THE BLUE DEMONS, it seems, want to focus their attention on building an arena near the McCormick Place convention center – which would put them on the South Side right on the lakefront.

Which would also make some sort of deal with city government officials necessary as to how to fit an arena into the convention hall-and-hotel complex without making a complete mess of things.

That adds to the sports-related negotations taking place these days for city officials – who these days are devoting some time to trying to figure out how to do a renovation of the nearly century-old ballpark at Clark and Addison streets used by the Chicago Cubs.

A wrench was tossed into those negotiations by suburban Rosemont officials, where Comcast Sports News reported that village President Brad Stephens is willing to offer the Cubs a 25-acre parcel of land within his municipality.

TWENTY FIVE ACRES is much larger than the square block that contains the grandstand and playing field that the Cubs now use for their ballgames.

Stephens also indicates a certain flexibility to pretty much let the Cubs have control of what gets built on those 25 acres – compared to the negotations in Chicago where city officials are determined to prevent an expanded Wrigley Field from devastating the character of the few blocks of the Lake View neighborhood known as “Wrigleyville.”
Cubs want to make this decades-old postcard obsolete

Rosemont, of course, is the home of the arena once known as the Horizon that has been the home of Blue Demons basketball for the past three decades. Which makes some people wonder if this is merely an attention-grabbing stunt by Rosemont to try to stay in the sports game, should the Blue Demons really return to Chicago.

Somehow, I just don’t see either option under consideration as being in the best interests of the athletic teams/programs involved.

I COMPREHEND WHY the Blue Demons basketball would want to return to the city – DePaul University is a Lincoln Park neighborhood-based school. The theory is that playing in a city-based arena would bolster interest amongst the student body and make it easier for them to actually attend games.

But the area around McCormick Place isn’t exactly convenient to the DePaul campus. I could just as easily see students ignore the Blue Demons games played there just as much as they ignore the ones being played in Rosemont.

There might not turn out to be any real benefit whatsoever for DePaul – except to remind us of how far Blue Demons basketball has declined, to the point that nobody even thinks of them when it comes time for the NCAA Division I tournament that began this week.

As for the Cubs, the thought of playing in a suburban-based stadium merely reminds people of the thoughts of late Mayor Richard J. Daley when the Chicago Bears seriously thought of moving to the northwest suburbs back in the early 1970s.

DALEY, THE ELDER, said they’d lose the city name, and would have to become the “Arlington Heights Bears.” No matter how unrealistic that thought was, it would be felt by many, and would be a blow to the ball club’s image.

The “Rosemont Cubs” probably won’t ever happen. Too much of what makes the Cubs financially viable despite their pitiful record and lack of accomplishments over so many decades is tied into the building and the way it fits into Lake View.

Which may be the key factor for the Cubs to keep in mind as they negotiate with city officials and those dreaded rooftop owners on Waveland and Sheffield avenues.

The team may well need them more than the local residents need all those suburban crowds flooding into the neighborhood 81 days a year.


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