Wintrust Set For Grand Opening
Chicago’s new 10,000-capacity
Wintrust Arena is ready to open in the up-and-coming McCormick Square convention center and Pollstar got an exclusive chat with the venue’s assistant GM of entertainment.
McCormick Square – Wintrust Arena
Wintrust Arena stands as the newest addition to the McCormick Square convention center, alongside the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago.
SMG’s David Kennedy, who also oversees the complex’s
Arie Crown Theater, said the 10,387-capacity venue is already hosting private events and everything is in place for the first ticketed event featuring Bob Dylan with special guest Mavis Staples Oct. 27.
With anchor tenants in the DePaul University men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, the venue is poised to increase foot traffic in the neighborhood surrounding McCormick Square, which Kennedy said has seen an explosion of condominiums in the last 10 years and that the city has invested in.
“Before the boom there was a lot of warehouses, there were not as many condos,” he said. “The city is very, very much involved with the development of this neighborhood. They’ve made a huge financial investment into a streetscape project, [called] Motor Row. Many of the old blues clubs are on Motor Row, Michigan Ave., which is two blocks away. That has led to several bars and restaurants. … So the businesses are coming, food and beverage establishments and then we’ll get some additional retail.”
Kennedy said there were no major snags during the construction process (noting “I was also not the head of construction”), but the heavy winds of the Chicago winter provided a unique challenge.
The $164 million venue features an elephant door which means a section of seats can be raised with a hydraulic lift to more easily move large equipment into the venue and Kennedy drew attention to the venue’s Wi-Fi and data capabilities, which are set up to allow 10,000 people to connect and potentially stream simultaneously.
The development of Wintrust and the neighborhood is already helping to “reintroduce” the 4,249-capacity Arie Crown Theater to more acts and promoters, a pattern that Kennedy said he hopes will continue as the venues are able to share staff and a growing audience.
“At Arie Crown Theater we already have added some shows, increased from previous years just with the exposure the arena has brought,” he said.
Arie Crown has hosted events like “Back To The 80’s – Live” and “NuSoul Revival” this year and has shows like “Momma’s Boy on the books.
Kennedy said Wintrust likely won’t be able to host a hockey team but he is open to other sporting events like boxing and tennis. When asked what else he felt people should know about the venue, Kennedy said he was very excited about all the relationships the team at McCormick Square can rely on, being an SMG-managed venue.