Chicago’s Choice: Closing 50 Schools But Spending $100 Million On Basketball Arena

The events center is expected to bring DePaul's basketball program back to the city of Chicago. (Drawing Courtesy of McCormick Place)

As we wrote in March, the city of Chicago unveiled plans two months ago to close over 50 schools, mostly in the poorest areas.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan has sparked fierce protests, with thousands of protesters hitting the streets last weekend to oppose the school closures –arguing that they would put children at risk by having to travel further to overcrowded schools.

But while the city insists it must close these schools to close budget gaps, it has just announced that it will be dedicated as much as $100 million in public funds for the construction of a new basketball arena at DePaul University — which is about a third of the cost of the project.

Emanuel justified such a large public investment by saying that building the arena and surrounding event center will bring “huge opportunity” to the city of Chicago in the way that it would attract business and tourists.

This statement came at around the same time the Board of Education — despite desperate pleas from city residents as, Progress Illinois documents here — voted in favor of the mayor’s plan to shutter 50 schools. The Board, it should be noted, is not elected like it is in some municipalities. It was appointed by Mayor Emanuel.

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