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Allstate Arena Closes One Chapter, Preps for Another

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Allstate Arena closed one chapter of its history of the weekend, but the venue is also about to embark on a new era in NCAA basketball

Since its opening in 1980, the Rosemont, IL venue has been home to the DePaul Blue Demons. DePaul’s men’s basketball program closed out its long run at Allstate Arena on Saturday, when it hosted Xavier in a 79-65 loss.

For DePaul, the focus is now on the university’s next move, which is to the forthcoming Wintrust Arena. Wintrust Arena, which will open for the 2017-18 season, will offer the university a more modern venue and a unique setting near McCormick Place.

DePaul believes that the move to Wintrust Arena should provide the campus community with a more accessible venue, while enhancing amenities for fans and players alike. More from the Daily Herald:

But it wasn’t until May 2013 that DePaul, McPier and city officials revealed plans for a stadium at Indiana Avenue and Cermak Road on the Near South Side — six miles from campus and a Red Line el ride away. By comparison, Allstate Arena is 14 miles away.

“There’s been a clamoring from them (students) to be able to come to games along the el line,” [athletic director Jean] Lenti Ponsetto said.

Construction on the new stadium started in November 2015. The venue will have 22 suites, two VIP club lounges, and a second-level Demon Deck student section. Officials plan to host more than 60 events a year, including DePaul games, concerts, shows, conventions and meetings.

Lenti Ponsetto said she believes the new stadium’s locker room/lounge area and practice facilities — a state-of-the-art weight room and training area — will help lure top recruits.

Allstate Arena, meanwhile, will prep for the arrival of another college basketball program. Starting next season, the facility will serve as a temporary home for the Northwestern Wildcats.

Northwestern’s men’s basketball program played its final home game of the 2016-17 season on Sunday. This was significant in that the university’s long-time basketball venue, Welsh-Ryan Arena, is about to undergo a $110 million renovation project.

With the extensive overhaul to the arena requiring basketball to move its games, the men’s program will play next season at Allstate Arena. The move, which is only expected to affect the 2017-18 season, will provide the team with a home venue while it prepares to modernize Welsh-Ryan Arena. More from The Chicago Tribune:

The arena will slim down from a capacity of 8,117 to about 7,000, enhancing the comfort level (and odds of getting a parking spot) for those inside.

[Northwestern athletic director Jim] Phillips is a basketball guy. He visited dozens of venues around the nation, paying particular interest to ones at Kansas, Duke and SMU — where fans generated the most noise.

“My two anchor points with the architects,” Phillips told the Tribune, “are to create a phenomenal fan experience — no bad seat — and I want that place as loud as possible. By having a second tier behind the basket, the sound will not (exit) like it does now. It resonates toward the floor. And we’ll have a new sound system. This has a chance to be amazing.”

Northwestern lost Sunday’s game, dropping a close 69-65 contest to Purdue.

Welsh-Ryan Arena has served as the home of both the men’s and women’s basketball programs. While the men’s program will head to Allstate Arena for the 2017-18 season, a seperate venue will be used for women’s basketball. In January, Northwestern announced that Beardsley Gym in Evanston, Il will host the women’s program for the 2017-18 season.

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