Protestors rally against DePaul arena outside president's luncheon

October 21, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Parents and community members are upset over the plan to build a new university sports arena near McCormick Place with taxpayer money.

Protestors chants of "Our money, our schools," were loud enough to hear through the walls at the City Club luncheon where DePaul University President Reverend Dennis Holtschneider. was speaking.

"I want to thank you all for the warm welcome here and outside the door when I came in," he said.

Outside the door, various community and parent groups were protesting the use of taxpayers' money, specifically tax-increment financing funds (TIFs) to help build a new DePaul basketball arena. The $173 million, 10,000 seat facility will be built near McCormick Place.

How many arenas or stadiums do we need in Chicago? We need great education for all students. That is what we need," Jeanette Taylor, protester, said.

Protesters want Holtschnieder to refuse to accept the TIFs funds that are being used to finance the stadium. Holtschnieder said how the city chooses to spend the funds is not his call.

"The city had to make a call whether this was a project to benefit the city in the long run. That is theirs to argue," Holtschneider said.

Holtschneider says DePaul is kicking in $70 million to build the arena, which will only be used for 30 days. In addition, the private Catholic university will be paying full rent for its days of use. McCormick Place is contributing the same amount of money to use the arena for conventions.

"There is no way when people accuse DePaul of having somehow received benefit financially from that, I think DePaul has been generous to Chicago," Holtschneider said.

Proposed less than a year ago, 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack says the project has been fast tracked despite what he says is strong opposition to it.

'It's frustrating to see a project moving along so quickly when it is not necessary," Ald. Waguespack said.

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