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DePaul basketball arena bill passes Senate, heads to Quinn’s desk

Updated: May 31, 2013 6:06PM

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate gave final legislative approval Friday to a McPier makeover plan that includes funds for a new DePaul University basketball arena at McCormick Place.

The measure pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel passed 38-17, with two voting present, and now moves to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has expressed support for the plan. The legislation passed the House Thursday.

“Today, with this bill, Illinois is open for business,” said state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields), the bill’s chief Senate sponsor.

Approval for McPier to build a 10,000-seat, $173 million basketball arena that would double as a venue for trade shows and conventions was included in a huge economic-development package that also jump-starts the long-stalled, south-suburban airport proposed near Peotone.

“The third airport is coming to the south suburbs,” Quinn said in a prepared statement. “This agreement is a major step forward to develop the south suburban airport, which will ensure Illinois’ place as the transportation hub of the nation.”

The legislation, backed by Will County, also permits the Illinois Department of Transportation to enter into a series of public-private agreements with contractors to develop and operate the long-stalled, proposed south-suburban airport in Peotone.

With McPier, the plan extends a deadline on a tax-increment financing district and allows bonds already authorized to be used for convention activities and hotels to extend to land acquisition for and construction of the multi-purpose arena.

“This is a real partnership ... We’re both getting something that we need,” said Jim Reilly, CEO of Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, who testified earlier Friday for the bill. “We need it for events. They need it for basketball, and by partnering, we’re getting something we couldn’t otherwise have.”

Additionally, the legislation contains provisions authorizing $3 million in annual funding during the next six years to transform the south suburban Brownfield area into an intermodal facility and granting Rosemont new borrowing authority for convention center renovations.

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