PRO: Station provides easy access to United Center and West Side developments
MT: First, is the United Center in a bustling area of Chicago? On non-game days, no. It’s an area of the city that is driven almost solely on the success of the events that take place at the United Center on a yearly basis.
But with the new Bulls practice facility opening in 2014, the additional office, retail and dining space being built at the United Center itself, and the new Blackhawks community training center that is under construction just two blocks from the United Center, the West Side of Chicago is beginning to reap the benefits of the local teams investing in the area.
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Rocky Wirtz, Jerry Reinsdorf and John McDonough want to make the United Center a year-round destination. It was clear when the development began on the new community training facility back in June of 2016, when McDonough called the new developments, “a huge win” for the neighborhood.
Adding the Green Line stop to provide easier access to the budding United Center/West Side is only a plus because it gives larger groups of people options to explore the future businesses and entertainment options in the area.
If the United Center, Advocate Center, the Blackhawks Community Training Center and the surrounding colleges and businesses all have easy access to and from the “L” train system, what is to stop the neighborhood from becoming the new “it” place to be in the future?
CON: The United Center is not Wrigleyville … yet
AG: Wrigley Field is unique in that it’s a professional baseball stadium that is burrowed inside a neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side. The stadium is surrounded by residential homes and a great local bar scene.
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After games, fans fill the streets and stick around the neighborhood to eat, drink and socialize. The neighborhood is also a common hangout for fans to watch Bulls, Bears and Blackhawks games.
But the United Center is certainly not Wrigley Field. Built in 1994, Jerry Reinsdorf and Bill Wirtz partnered to build a stadium with 3,000 more seating capacity than Chicago Stadium. They picked a location west of Chicago’s downtown in the middle of Ukrainian Village and Garfield Park because the land was cheap at the time.
It cost $175 million to build in comparison to the Red Wings’ new stadium, rumored to be surpassing $600 million today.
Bottom line, it’s very clear the Bulls and ’Hawks would like to build up the neighborhood to make it like Wrigley, but it’s not there yet. There are a few bars down Madison and a couple of restaurants like Billy Goat Tavern and The Bottom Lounge, but people aren’t sticking around.
Maybe with construction of the new practice facility, more business will go up. The train station is scheduled to begin service in 2020, so maybe by then things will be more developed?
But knowing Chicago politics and the current pace we’re at now, we’ll see if any of these ideas actually materialize without raising fares and pissing off all the senior citizens again.