You can buy a piece of Odeum history before arena's gone

Is anyone in the market for a neon Budweiser sign? Or how about an electric scoreboard? Or, if you have the room, three AstroTurf soccer fields are up for grabs.

These objects are part of nearly 3,000 lots from the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park that are being auctioned online at From industrial kitchen equipment to 24-foot-long Duvateen concert stage panels, the secondhand items from the Odeum's 41-year history all need new homes.

"When you see what we've purchased over the years, it's somewhat overwhelming," said Francine "Sis" Greco, one of the Elmhurst-based Greco family owners and operators of the 130,000-square-foot Odeum building since it opened in 1981.

After many years of seeking a buyer, the Grecos completed a sale in January of their 12.9-acre property at 1033 N. Villa Ave. Greco revealed that the new owners plan on demolishing the Odeum to make way for a trucking and warehouse business.

So, by the end of May, nearly everything from the venue that hosted conventions, concerts, sporting leagues and haunted houses has to be gone.

There has been an elegiac mood among longtime Odeum guests ranging from soccer league players to craft show vendors.

"Bittersweet is the word to describe the last six months," Greco said.

"When you say goodbye to a building, you have to ... concentrate on the fact that what made the Odeum special were the people and the memories that came with the building."

Readying all the items for Minnesota-based Grafe Auction and Reality has been a walk down memory lane for the Greco family and longtime Odeum staff.

Select Odeon equipment brings back associations with entertainers and politicians, ranging from rock star Rob Zombie to the late Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Before the online auction wraps up between May 9 and May 11, the Odeum will open its doors for buyers to make in-person inspections on May 6 and May 8.

Visitors can also use that time to experience one major Odeum feature that is not for sale: the massive stained-glass art piece depicting Chicago Warriors hockey players, tennis great Billie Jean King and boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

"The new owners and the contractor have allowed us time in June to have the artwork removed and stored properly until we can figure out how to take it to the next level," Greco said.

The artwork was fabricated by Wisconsin-based Conrad Schmitt Studios, which is helping to dismantle it.

Greco hopes that isolated panels can be donated to sporting federations or museums.

The Greco family will be honored on May 10 by the DuPage County Board and the DuPage Convention and Visitors Bureau for their event center legacy.

But Sis Greco emphasized the Odeum couldn't have been the success it was without its dedicated staff and guests.

"It's been a lot of hard work over the years," Greco said. "Hearing all the warm wishes from visitors and clients, you feel that it was all worthwhile and that gives you validation for letting go."

  Francine "Sis" Greco, a co-owner of the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park, walks among lots of online auction items drawn from the venue's 41-year history. Two in-person inspection dates are scheduled for May 6 and 8. Mark Welsh/
  The famed stained glass Odeum Expo Center art piece depicting Chicago Warriors hockey players and other athletes is not for sale. Instead, it will be dismantled before the building's demolition this summer as the Greco family works to potentially have pieces of the artwork donated to sporting museums or federations. Mark Welsh/
  Francine "Sis" Greco, a co-owner of the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park, poses in front of items that will be auctioned off online in May. The 41-year-old venue has been sold by the Greco family and is slated to be demolished this summer. Mark Welsh/
  Padded seats, banquet tables and more are all being auctioned off online by the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park. The 41-year-old entertainment and sporting venue is closing at the end of May, and is slated to be demolished this summer. Mark Welsh/
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