Chicago, Big East Need A Strong DePaul
Monday, October 01, 2012
If the new Big East Conference is to succeed in the sport of men’s basketball, it would be nice for the DePaul Blue Demons to be relevant once again on the national scene. Granted, it’s not imperative that this happen given the high profile of many of the league’s other programs, but it could provide an added boost for the Big East.
Monday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a press conference that he would like DePaul to return to the city of Chicago to play its home basketball games.
For the last 32 years, DePaul has called the Allstate Arena (formerly the Rosemont Horizon) its home arena. The problem is that it is about 15 miles away from DePaul’s campus making it less attractive for students to attend games there.
While Emanuel did not say where he would like the Blue Demons to play their home games, the only option in the short term would be to play them at the United Center in downtown Chicago.
Another option would be for a new arena to be built for DePaul near McCormick Place.
While playing games closer to campus should help increase attendance, what Emanuel needs to realize is that the only thing that will bring fans in Chicago back to DePaul games is winning.
The Blue Demons have been to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament just twice (2000 & 2004) in the last 20 years. Not since the legendary Ray Meyer coached the team has the team been a regular participant in the Big Dance.
During the decade of the 80’s, DePaul made it to the NCAA’s 9 out of 10 seasons. Back then, DePaul basketball meant something to sports fans in Chicago. That has not been the case for more than 20 years now.
Why is it important to the Big East for DePaul to be relevant again? Because Chicago is the third largest city and media market in the country. And, with the Big East currently looking for a new television contract, having a viable entity in a market that size would be a major plus.
Secondly, Chicago is a talent-rich area for college basketball programs to recruit and the reemergence of DePaul basketball would not only help that program keep many of its talented high school players home, it would also help other Big East schools recruiting that same area.
While George Mikan may be one of the most famous DePaul basketball alums, there have been some other great players to come through the program as well. Mark Aguirre, Terry Cummings, Rod Strickland and Dave Corzine are just a few players who not only excelled at DePaul, but also enjoyed success at the NBA level.
The Blue Demons need those types of players moving forward because DePaul basketball needs to be relevant again for both the city of Chicago and the Big East.