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Official Review by Steven Burke, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
DePaul is in the process of constructing a new basketball arena in downtown Chicago in conjunction with the city of Chicago near the McCormick Place convention center. Until construction is complete DePaul men’s basketball will continue to call the Allstate Arena home.
Allstate Arena is located in Rosemont near O’Hare Airport. It is a great facility for sports and concerts and is the go to venue for many major traveling shows. While very suitable for basketball as evidenced by the success of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, the issue that can’t be overlooked is the distance between the venue and the DePaul campus. DePaul runs shuttle buses for students, however the distance causes small crowds. The result is a venue which can seat 17,500 for basketball, but appears cavernous during Blue Demons games.
The DePaul Blue Demons have a rich basketball history with more than 20 appearances in the NCAA tournament, and two Final Four appearances (1943 and 1979). Unfortunately the Blue Demons haven’t been in the Big Dance since 2004.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Many of the concession stands in the concourse of Allstate Arena are closed during DePaul basketball games, but you can still find plenty of good options, although at a slightly inflated price compared to many other college basketball arenas.
Connie's Pizza is a good choice, and a favorite of Chicagoans. The pizza is expensive ($6.75) for sausage, pepperoni, or plain cheese. This is an especially good choice if you're there early and the pizzas are freshest. Other selections include hot dog ($5.50), nachos ($6-$8), Polish sausage ($6.50), or soft pretzel with cheese ($5).
Pepsi is the soda provider, and these are also expensive ($6 for a souvenir size or $5 for a regular). The one nice thing for fans about going to this off campus facility is that it is one of the few in college basketball to serve alcohol. Draft beers are $7.50 and mixed drinks ($8-$12), wine ($7.50-$8), and frozen margaritas ($8-$13) are also available.
Overall, the food is pretty good by similar standards, but certainly overpriced.
The quality of the venue itself can't be denied, especially following upgrades in recent years including a new large video board and ribbon boards around the façade of the upper deck. The atmosphere however is negatively impacted by a total lack of fan support.
While all of the seats are relatively new, clean, and padded, a continued complaint is the lack of legroom and relatively narrow seats. With a state of the art video scoreboard hanging above center court and the recently added ribbon boards the Allstate Arena truly provides a great venue from a presentation standpoint. It is hard however to score the atmosphere any higher because of the sterile empty sections of seats.
Rosemont provides a great setting for pregame and postgame activities. Within walking distance is an array of hotels and restaurants including Harry Caray's Restaurant, Longhorn Steakhouse, Chili's, Starbucks, Chipotle, Panda Express, IHOP, Culver's, Subway, Buona Beef and Potbelly Sandwiches.
A few miles away is the entertainment district known as MB Financial Park where you'll find a Muvico movie theatre, Zanie's Comedy Club, Skyzone indoor skydiving, Bub City, Fogo De Chao, Hofbrauhaus Chicago, Kings Bowling, Park Tavern, and Sugar Factory.
There are numerous hotels nearby as you are just a short drive to one the United States' busiest airports.
The fan presence at DePaul games is virtually nonexistent. The fans that do attend games seem to consist of families or fans of the visiting team. The DePaul students can't be blamed for their lack of interest when so much planning is necessary just to attend a game. The ability for an arena to be weaved into the campus and for students to walk from residence halls to the game is a great part of the student experience and something that is unfortunately not possible for DePaul students.
It is important to note that this is not something that will be remedied when the new arena is open, while access for students will be easier compared to Allstate Arena it will still require planning and either driving, a shuttle or the CTA.
Average paid attendance is over 6,000, but the large arena feels empty, especially without the energy of a good student section.
Being located in the suburbs allows Allstate Arena to have a huge parking lot so finding a spot will not be difficult, it also will not be cheap. Parking is listed at $15-$20 depending on the opponent. There is a large shopping center across the street from Allstate Arena, however they do tow vehicles that are parked there for arena events so do not risk your car being towed when you leave the game.
Allstate Arena is located on Mannheim Rd and sits right next to the I-90 expressway; both allow for easy exiting following DePaul basketball games. Even while attending sold-out events at Allstate Arena the traffic seems to disperse quickly as there is always a surplus of Rosemont police officers directing traffic.
Single game tickets for DePaul basketball range in price from $10-$55. The $10 tickets are limited to the upper deck sections directly behind each basket. The next step is the $20 seat, which includes a large portion of the seating bowl including the entire upper deck with the exception of those $10 sections as well as sections in the lower seating bowl on each end. The most expensive ticket is $55 and will get you courtside. Combined with the unavoidable price to park, and the sterile atmosphere inside and DePaul basketball does not provide a very good bang for your buck.
One extra point for the efforts DePaul has put into getting a new arena constructed. It is clear that the school recognizes the current logistic issues of attending a game. While the new arena is not ideal as it will still require travel for students, it will at least be easier to access via public transportation and will be in downtown Chicago, which is always a plus.
The choices for college basketball in Chicagoland are vast. Unfortunately at the present moment many of those choices provide a better experience than DePaul.
Member Review by paul
The Allstate Arena is the prototype "Multi-use" facility. Currently it is the home to the DePaul Blue Demon men's basketball team, as well as the WNBA Chicago Sky, AHL Chicago Wolves, and Arena Football League Chicago Rush. Beyond that, the venue has hosted numerous concerts and other events since its' opening in 1980.
While it can be described as flexible due to its wide range of hosting abilities, it can also be described as somewhat stale, lacking a clear personality. My biggest complaint though is not that it's a multi-use facility, but that it lacks any real student presence. Located in the northern Chicago suburb of Rosemont, the Allstate Arena feels like an extension to an airport or shopping mall, not a highly energized college environment.
The University opened McGrath Arena in 2000 on the DePaul Lincoln Park campus, but unfortunately it only seats 3,000 fans so it is unsuitable for Big East basketball (it is however a great venue to see women's basketball).
Until DePaul finds a more interesting home, it is difficult to imagine a time when DePaul basketball returns to the glory it saw under Ray Meyer. If you have some time to kill before a flight at O'Hare, or are stuck in a hotel for a conference or convention, then you may want to go to a DePaul basketball game, but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way.
Member Review by paul on Nov 17, 2012
The Allstate Arena is a great example of a multi-purpose arena. The venue is versatile, has wonderful acoustics, beautiful scoreboards and video boards and a good sound system. Basketball, hockey, soccer, wrestling, concerts, and more have been hosted here in Rosemont. There is plenty of parking and the facility is near Chicago’s largest airport, O’Hare International.
Unfortunately the arena is not very close to one important place in Chicago, the campus of DePaul University. Consequently, the building remains largely empty and without the character that an on-campus facility would provide. In fact, Sullivan Athletic Center the home of DePaul’s successful women’s team, would be an ideal location for some of the Blue Demon’s lesser opponents with a capacity of 3,000 on DePaul’s south loop campus.
Although improvements have been made in the past couple of years to help brand the interior of the Allstate Arena for Blue Demon home games, the place just doesn’t seem like home.
4200 N River Rd
Schiller Park, IL 60176