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Emanuel Adds More Projects to Chicago's Tourism Pipeline

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday announced plans to construct a $173-million stadium for DePaul University's Blue Demons adjacent to McCormick Place, the city's largest convention center.

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The stadium, slated to break ground next year, is part of a city initiative to create an entertainment and tourist district near McCormick Place. In addition to restaurants, the program envisions a pair of new hotels for the area, located south of the city's Loop.

In February, Chicago's Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority announced plans for the first of the two hotels, a $400-million, 1,200-room facility intended to boost convention activity in Chicago. The city also plans to pair the stadium with a smaller 500-room boutique hotel.

McCormick Place currently has only one hotel, the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, within walking distance of it. As a result, most visitors must travel by bus or taxi to attend meetings there.

On Friday, Emanuel was due to unveil plans for the redevelopment of Navy Pier, a mixed-use facility located along Lake Michigan's shoreline.

The McCormick Place and Navy Pier projects are key components of “Elevate Chicago,” a $1.1-billion program to create new “tourism and tradeshow infrastructure” through public and private funding.

“Establishing the McCormick Place entertainment district along with the redevelopment of Navy Pier is a vital step in tapping the full potential of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said in a statement on Thursday.

Navy Pier currently is the state's top tourist destination. In recent years, Chicago has lost convention business to competing cities.

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