By MIRIAM FINDER ANNENBERG
When the Rosemont Horizon, now the Allstate Arena, first opened its doors in 1980, it brought one of the era’s biggest musical acts, Fleetwood Mac, to Rosemont. That show set a precedent of drawing big-name bands and entertainers to the village and cementing Rosemont as an entertainment destination for people across the Chicagoland area.
Over time, elements of the venue have changed. Allstate Insurance secured naming rights for the arena, and the building’s exterior received a makeover. However, the contents of what occurs within the building grounds remain -- concerts, flea markets, and entertainment of all kinds right in Rosemont.
“It’s just same old: busy, busy, busy,” said Allstate Arena Executive Director Patrick Nagle of the upcoming year. “We have everything from kids’ shows to concerts to bull riders to basketball to hockey.”
New to Allstate Arena this year is the Northwestern Men’s Basketball Wildcats team. The team is using the venue as its home court for the 2017-2018 season while its home base, Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, undergoes renovations. The team brings Big 10 basketball to Rosemont, likely drawing crowds of visiting-team fans from across the Midwest region.
However, Allstate Arena is no stranger to hosting basketball games. The DePaul University Men’s Basketball Blue Demons team used to play at the arena, as did the Chicago Sky WNBA team. The Chicago Sky played at Allstate Arena for eight years, but announced in July 2017 its departure to Chicago’s new Wintrust Arena beginning in 2018.
In other sports news, Allstate Arena continues to host the Chicago Wolves hockey team going into the new year.
Also new to the arena in the past year is the Rivers Lounge, a suite for Rivers Casino and its guests, completed in early 2017, although it is also open to the public. In recent years, Allstate Arena expanded its parking area in the front and back of the venue in 2016.
As for any new renovations, Nagle said there are some plans in the works.
“We’re looking at redoing the downstairs, all the bathrooms next season,” he said. “Just to basically upgrade and make them nicer and newer.”
One change coming to the arena this year has nothing to do with performance. Ride-sharing company Lyft made a deal with the Village of Rosemont in early November 2017. Under the $150,000 deal, the company received exclusive use of a small parking lots near the Allstate Arena administration building for picking up riders after shows and events.
“It’s just part of the times,” said Nagle. “People are taking that kind of transportation more so than just driving to shows. [It’s] just something more to accommodate our patrons.”
Traffic management for such shows and events is handled by Rosemont Public Safety’s Auxiliary Division, a group of officers who help direct traffic and crowds, created largely in part for large events like those at Allstate Arena. Security has tightened over the years, and Nagle said he recommends visitors get to the venue early for show.
“We [metal] wand everybody who comes through,” he said. “You can’t just show your ticket and walk in.”
And, with big ticket names headlining the arena, crowds continue to grow. In 2016, the Allstate Arena played host to 150 shows, welcoming more than 1 million visitors to the venue. Tickets sales reached $38.7 million, according to Rosemont’s 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).
Over the years, performers like Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, and Tina Turner have taken the stage at Allstate Arena. More recently, pop stars like Ed Sheeran, Janet Jackson, and Shawn Mendes visited the arena for performances.
Going into 2018, audiences can expect to see musicians like Demi Lovato and Lorde and other entertainment events, such as Disney on Ice and monster truck show Monster Jam Triple Threat Series.
In addition to helping Rosemont by bringing potential diners to the village before and after shows, Rosemont also owns the arena. Therefore, the village benefits from concession sales, parking fees, advertising fees, and stadium rental fees. In 2016, those revenue combined totalled $19.1 million, according to Rosemont’s 2016 CAFR. Operating expenses for that year reached $16.9 million.
According to Anticipated 2017 Revenues, Allstate Arena will bring in more than $20 million to the Village of Rosemont in 2017.