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Big East considers DePaul to be a valuable asset

Updated: November 7, 2012 6:11AM

New Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said DePaul’s plans to build a new campus-area arena for its basketball program will be the school’s call, adding that, “Whatever they do will be the right decision.’’

Aresco, in Chicago on Friday to meet with Midwest media, said DePaul and Marquette bring “a wonderful basketball heritage’’ to the changing conference, which will lose longtime member Notre Dame to the Atlantic Coast Conference within two years for its non-football programs. The Fighting Irish are among the teams leaving the conference, with West Virginia already gone and Syracuse and Pittsburgh set to depart.

Incoming members will include Temple, Memphis, Boise State, Navy, SMU, Houston and San Diego State, some in only football.

Aresco said DePaul brings the Chicago market as “Chicago’s team.’’

“I know the contributions that DePaul makes to this city,’’ he said.

The school’s decision last spring to bring the men’s basketball program “back to the city’’ by 2018 was outlined in the university’s latest long-term strategic plan. The Blue Demons have played at Allstate Arena since 1980, and are under contract to remain through 2015.

While speculation has heightened about possible sites for an arena, the university’s board has yet to take formal action on the long-range proposal.

Officials at the United Center, where the Bulls hope to build a new practice facility, have shown interest in wooing the Blue Demons. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he wants the team to return to the city as well.

City officials would like DePaul to consider the area around McCormick Place, where they hope to spur revitalization. DePaul officials long have said if a new arena is built, a location near campus would be the school’s first preference.

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