SOUTH LOOP — The future DePaul University arena under construction near McCormick Place has a new name: Wintrust Arena.
Local bank chain Wintrust Financial has secured 15-year naming rights for the 10,000-seat arena opening next year at Cermak Road and Indiana Avenue. The announcement comes exactly a year after the ambitious project broke ground.
"We're thrilled to bring DePaul basketball back to Chicago," Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, DePaul's president, said Wednesday. "Our fans have been screaming for this for years."
It's unknown how much the naming rights cost. DePaul, which currently hosts its basketball games at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, is splitting construction costs of its new $164 million arena with the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, but will capture revenue from naming rights and sponsorships.
Officials declined to disclose the full terms of the deal Wednesday.
Ed Wehmer, Wintrust's CEO, said the lender also sponsors the Chicago Cubs and joked that "good things happen when you hang a Wintrust sign."
"We felt it appropriate to associate ourselves with the iconic teams of Chicago," Wehmer said.
The deal is sure to light a fire under activists who have opposed the new arena since it was announced a week before the city closed 49 public schools in 2013. A 1,206-room Marriott hotel under construction next to the arena was financed with $55 million in tax-increment financing (TIF) funds, funds that are diverted from school districts and other local taxing bodies.
Erika Wozniak, a Chicago Public Schools teacher, started a petition last year asking DePaul to donate any proceeds from naming rights back to CPS. The petition had more than 1,200 signatures as of Wednesday morning.
Though the arena itself did not receive any public funds, "it's disingenuous to say DePaul is no longer benefiting from" the TIF funding, Wozniak previously told DNAinfo.
Rosemont-based Wintrust owns various community banks in the Chicago area including Hinsdale Bank & Trust, Lake Forest Bank & Trust, and Barrington Bank & Trust.
Click the slideshow above or scroll down below for more looks at the new arena underway in the South Loop:
[All photos by DNAinfo/David Matthews]
A Marriott hotel under construction behind the arena.
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