At 9 a.m. on Monday, city of Chicago, state of Illinois, and DePaul University officials will gather for the groundbreaking of the new McCormick Place Events Center in the South Loop.
Even though construction has already been underway for the better part of the last month at the Arena site at the intersection of Indiana and Cermak, Monday will mark the official groundbreaking ceremony.
The arena is expected to be completed and ready for the opening of the 2017-18 DePaul basketball season.
For DePaul coach Dave Leitao, this won’t be the first time that he has witnessed the construction and opening of a new arena in his basketball coaching tenure.
When Leitao was an assistant coach at Connecticut in January, 1990, UConn opened the Henry A. Gampel Pavilion on the school’s campus.
Back when Leitao was hired to coach the University of Virginia Cavaliers, construction had begun on John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville at the cost of $131 million.
Leitao had the opportunity to open the arena in 2006 during his second year at UVA.
The fall of 2017 will mark the third time that Leitao will take part in the christening of a new arena.
Leitao is rebuilding the DePaul program in parallel with the building of the new arena. As such, he understands the importance of what a new facility can mean for the Blue Demons.
“It’s the all hands on board approach to what something new like that can mean,” Leitao said of opening a new arena. “It’s much more than ‘Hey we’re playing in a new gym’. It’s a new beginning. It’s a change in era and it’s a chance to make your mark. For us I think because of the history of DePaul, because of the sports fans in this town and the passion, that we have an opportunity in this window for a game changer. To change not the course of DePaul, because it’s been on a great historical course, but to make sure that we make our mark historically. That we’re not just trying to just move into a new arena. We’re trying to make sure that when we do that, we have the kind of team that people will talk about in the immediate present tense, but also in the future as teams that have done great things here.”