The South Loop has been booming with new breweries, hotels and residential towers, but this fall the neighborhood will see even more change (and crowds) as the Wintrust Arena opens its doors. The 10,387-seat facility is located at East Cermak Road and South Indiana Avenue, within spitting distance of the McCormick Place convention center and the brand new Marriott Marquis hotel.
With a budget somewhere north of $160 million, Wintrust Arena has been under construction since 2015 and was partially bankrolled by DePaul University, which will use the facility for its men’s and women’s basketball games. The men’s team will host Notre Dame in its first regular season game at Wintrust on November 11, while the women’s team will host an exhibition game agains IU Northwest on November 5.
College basketball won’t be the only attraction at the South Loop event center. Chicago’s WNBA team, the Sky, recently announced that it will relocate the team’s home games to Wintrust for the next five years. Fundraisers, trade shows and concerts are also expected to make use of the space when it officially opens in September. Maggie Daley’s After School Matters program will hold its annual fundraiser in the venue on September 18 and Wintrust Arena’s assistant general manager for entertainment told the Sun-Times last spring that it’s holding dates for concerts in October, November and December.
The prospect of year-round activity surrounding the arena is already leading to some big changes in the area, including proposed street closures and new one-way streets. According to a Chicago Department of Transportation presentation obtained by DNAinfo, portions of 21st Street and Cullerton Street may be changed to one-way streets, while a section of Calumet Street may be closed entirely when the arena opens. Closings and reroutes are expected to be finalized before the arena begins hosting basketball games in November.
While the opening of Wintrust Arena probably won't turn the South Loop into Chicago’s next Wrigleyville, the new venue seems poised to reshape the perception of the neighborhood and attract more visitors than ever before. Even if you're not a basketball fan, there’s a good chance that you may attend a concert, festival or event at Chicago’s newest arena in the near future—just make sure to familiarize yourself with the area’s new traffic arrangements before you head out.