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Wintrust Arena, shown under construction near McCormick Place last year. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

DePaul sells basketball stadium naming rights to Wintrust

SHARE DePaul sells basketball stadium naming rights to Wintrust
SHARE DePaul sells basketball stadium naming rights to Wintrust

DePaul University has sold the naming rights to the building that will house its basketball program to Wintrust Financial.

The building, located next to McCormick Place on the Near South Side, will be dubbed Wintrust Arena.

Neither side was willing to disclose the financial terms of the 15-year naming rights contract at a news conference Wednesday afternoon outside the arena, which is still under construction.

Rosemont-based Wintrust has popped up more and more in recent years, having inked marketing deals with the Cubs, White Sox and the Mackinac sailboat race.

“This is going to be a great opportunity for all of us,” Wintrust President and CEO Edward J. Wehmer said.

A rendering of the Wintrust Arena, the future home DePaul University basketball. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

A rendering of the Wintrust Arena, the future home DePaul University basketball. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

The arena, which is slated for completion before the start of the school’s 2017 season, is also a way for DePaul to raise its profile in the world of men’s college basketball.

The Blue Demons have not had much success in recent years. The last time the team made the NCAA tournament was in 2004.

DePaul has had a successful women’s basketball team for years.

“We think this is the last cornerstone, the last piece of the puzzle,” said DePaul Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto. “We have the coaching staff. We have scholarships. We have program support.”

DePaul will have a 50-year lease at the new arena.

Wintrust Arena is under construction in the South Loop. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Wintrust Arena is under construction in the South Loop. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

The school is paying for half of the construction costs of the arena — $82.5 million — and was granted naming rights under the deal.

But the arena will be publicly owned and operated by Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the government agency that’s paying for the other half of the construction tab.

As construction continues, DePaul will continue to play at Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing basketball back to Chicago, our alumni, our fans have been crying for this for years,” said the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, president of DePaul University.

Holtschneider said naming rights revenue will help pay for arena construction and ultimately further the school’s goal of not having to raise tuition to help pay for the arena.

Ponsetto is optimistic that basketball fans will quickly fill most of the-10,000 plus seats.

The construction site has been a first stop for many potential basketball recruits, she said.

Other events will also be held at the arena, such as concerts and small conventions.

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