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DePaul: Winning years shaped attendance projections for McCormick Place arena

Updated: July 2, 2013 7:22AM

A report critical of attendance projections for DePaul basketball games at a proposed new arena at McCormick Place studied only the last three years compared to a lengthier study done by the school, DePaul officials said Wednesday.

The report by Crain’s Chicago Business said the economic impact projections of the new arena were flawed based on the last three years of DePaul attendance at Allstate Arena, which totaled 42,000 actual fans instead of the 127,000 ‘‘tickets sold’’ reported by the school.

But a feasibility study prepared by the school as part of the project used a wider scope of recent years, encompassing 1999-2005, when DePaul went to postseason tournaments, including the NCAA tournament, the school said.

Attendance in those years and when the team had winning seasons averaged more than the last three years, which have been among the worst in the program’s history on the court and in the stands, school officials acknowledged.

The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, DePaul’s president, has said DePaul believes it can sell the 10,000 seats in the proposed arena, where it hopes to play beginning in 2016.

DePaul would commit at least $70  million toward construction of the multi-purpose arena but would use it for only 30 games and for its annual graduation ceremonies. The school would pay rent for those uses.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said McPier would lease the facility the rest of the year for small- to mid-sized conventions, concerts and other sporting events.

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