DePaul coach sees Wintrust Arena as a means to grow the game

Brand-new Wintrust Arena in downtown Chicago is not only the new home to DePaul basketball, but the Big East Tournament, from 2018-2021. With that comes opportunities, according to Blue Demon coach Doug Bruno.

The new 10,000-seat event center at McCormick Place just opened, and will be used for a myriad of events, from concerts to conferences to sporting events. It is a step up for DePaul, after playing in 3,000-seat McGrath-Phillips Arena, within the Sullivan Athletic Center.

Bruno sees the move as an opportunity for his program.

“We’re thrilled about Wintrust Arena,” Bruno said. “It’s just a beautiful arena, and it’s been great for us in recruiting. It provides for us an opportunity and a vision. Our dream is not just to go to Wintrust, our dream is to fill Wintrust. What excites me about Wintrust is the opportunity to fill it, not just play in it. That means an opportunity to sell the game of women’s basketball, by selling out the arena.”

“[It’s] going to be a process. I don’t necessarily expect to walk in there and sell it out, but we have reached 2,500 to 3,500 people right here in McGrath Phillips-Arena. I think everyone loves the fact that DePaul women’s basketball plays on campus and provides a vibrancy right here in Lincoln Park, and we love that vibrancy. But we want to grow the game of women’s basketball to a place and point where 10,000 isn’t enough tickets. That’s the vision.”

Last year’s Big East Tournament in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, saw third-seeded Marquette upset the No. 1 Blue Demons for an automatic NCAA Tournament berth. Next year’s event will be March 3-6.

Wintrust Arena will also be the new home of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, who are returning to the city after eight seasons at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. The team played its first four seasons at UIC Pavilion.