Oliver Purnell

DePaul’s new arena makes even less sense than we originally thought


When plans to build a new arena for DePaul using $100 million of taxpayer money were first announced a couple of weeks ago, the universal reaction was, more or less, “WTF”?

Thanks to some digging done by Danny Ecker of ChicagoBusiness.com, that plan makes even less sense.

To make a long story short, DePaul is using a trick that most sports teams have mastered: they don’t count attendance as the number of people that walk in the door. Their attendance figures are the number of tickets sold. So while an average of about 2,600 fans actually made it into DePaul’s home games last season, the program bases their attendance numbers on the fact that nearly 8,000 tickets were paid for per home game last season.

Here’s the catch: a number of those purchased tickets that remained empty were paid for by the school. They buy seats for students that want to pay for a ticket for the season, and since those tickets are “purchased”, it doesn’t matter whether students actually buy them off of the school.

The reason that the city is funding DePaul’s new arena is that they are trying to drive some money into the economy of the near South Side, the neighborhood where the arena will be built. But the figures are based 8,000 people descending upon the area around 20 times a year to watch DePaul play, when, in fact, it will be a third of that so long as DePaul basketball remains atrocious — they’ve gone 7-83 in the Big East the last five years, an accomplishment that is probably more difficult than going 83-7 in that span.

And there’s no indication of DePaul’s basketball program being on the uptick.

It’s not like anyone in the city of Chicago, a pro sports town through and through, cares about the Blue Demons.

The biggest issue, as Andy Glockner so tactfully points out, is that $100 million of taxpayer money in a city that’s broke is being spent on this arena:

The much more curious part of this, though, is Chicago is under massive budget pressure. The city recently decided to close 50 public schools in an effort to battle dwindling enrollment. That decision is leaving many buildings at far lower than capacity and is designed to cut costs, as Chicago Public Schools are currently facing a $1 billion (yes, that’s with a B) operating deficit for this fiscal year. And that’s without considering a teachers’ union claim that refurbishing the existing schools will cost almost the same as what the city claims it will save through the closings.

Someone smarter than me might be able to tell you why this arena makes sense.

The way I see it, the investigative reporters for the newspapers in Chicago just found themselves a new target.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the NBCSports.com Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.