Leadership Notes > 2023-24 > Community Meeting for Athletics Facility Project
By Peter Coffey /
November 16, 2023 /
At the beginning of the fall quarter, President Rob Manuel announced an ambitious philanthropic expansion at DePaul encompassing new fundraising goals for both academics and athletics. One of the first waves of fundraising will be dedicated to renovating the Sullivan Athletic Center and McGrath-Phillips Arena, as well as constructing a practice facility that will serve all our student-athletes.
Last week, as part of DePaul’s ongoing community engagement effort, we presented this plan to the Lincoln Park community at a public meeting in McGrath-Phillips Arena. Roughly 50 community members attended the event, along with Alderman Timmy Knudsen and university representatives.
DeWayne Peevy, vice president and director of athletics, shared DePaul’s rationale and vision for the project, in which our entire university will benefit from a healthy, vibrant athletics program. DeWayne provided the community with a virtual tour of the Sullivan Athletics Center and explained our current constraints around training, which are prohibiting us from attracting and retaining top athletics talent.
In his presentation, DeWayne further articulated that athletics should be strategically utilized as the university’s “front porch,” using their media value to nationally offer prospective students their first glimpse into the university. He affirmed that this project can drive athletic success, which will enhance national visibility, brand awareness, and affinity for DePaul, each in alignment with the university’s overall goals to boost enrollment, student success, and philanthropic support.
Several community members expressed support for the project — both in the meeting, and to the Alderman’s office — including the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce. The community also shared concerns for the preservation of the buildings that will be taken down for the project. The buildings are currently used for administrative purposes and student housing. Community members questioned how the university would handle the loss of housing and asked if it is possible to identify an alternative site on campus.
While we agree that these buildings are beautiful, DePaul University’s consultants did not find any evidence of landmark potential. DePaul currently has unoccupied beds in our on-campus housing, which will offset the loss. After several months of research, the proposed site offers the most suitable location for this project’s needs, while reserving other parcels on our very limited campus footprint for future academic and student service projects already approved in the university’s master plan. This location was also chosen due to its proximity to the existing athletics facilities at Sullivan Athletic Center, Wish Field, and Cacciatore Stadium.
We will continue to engage in conversations with our neighbors, and Alderman Knudsen’s office will collect feedback over the coming weeks. As for next steps, DePaul will file an amendment to our Planned Development Ordinance to proceed with the construction of the athletics practice facility. From there, the Chicago Plan Commission and the Chicago City Council will review our plans over the coming months.
DePaul established a Neighborhood Advisory Committee in the 1980s. The group includes presidents and representatives of our surrounding neighborhood associations and meets regularly to discuss issues that are important to all of us. DePaul deeply values our relationship with our Lincoln Park neighbors and the City of Chicago. We are grateful to the community members who are engaging in conversations with our university, and we will continue to share more information as it becomes available.