The Chicago Blackhawks announced today that the organization will build a 125,000-square-foot community training center for youth hockey development programs, recreational leagues and other events, which will also serve as the practice facility for the Blackhawks and visiting National Hockey League teams.
The state-of-the-art facility will be located two blocks south of the United Center on a 4-acre site currently housing Malcolm X College, which is expected to move into its own new building north of Jackson Boulevard in January 2016. The privately funded project will cost approximately $50 million and is being designed to contain two NHL regulation-size ice rinks, spectator seating and a dedicated oasis parking lot to serve facility guests and buses (renderings attached). In total, approximately 94 percent of the proposed facility’s utilization will serve the surrounding community, including young adult, youth and community programs that may not have the means to play otherwise.
“Hockey’s future is dictated by the ability of kids to get on the ice,” Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz said. “For those in urban areas like Chicago, that’s an incredible challenge. We want to provide our community the opportunity to learn how to skate and help them develop a love and passion for the sport that has brought so much joy to Chicago and the region these past few years.”
HOK and McHugh Construction are working to finalize the design and engineering of the ice rink. Since opening in 1994, the United Center–a join initiative owned by the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls–has invested over $180 million in construction costs for the stadium and over $100 million in area improvements.
The facility will offer special programs dedicated to serving youth in partnership with the Chicago Park District, open-skate ice times and community events, including hockey and figure skate rentals, ice rentals for adult and youth recreation leagues and local, national, international, collegiate and amateur tournament play.
Per USA Hockey, Illinois ranked fifth in the nation with 30,553 registered hockey players during the 2014-15 season, marking a 37.5 percent increase in membership since the 2007-08 season, which is the second-largest percent increase among USA Hockey regional affiliates. Since 2007-08, Illinois saw the largest total increase in participants among USA Hockey regional affiliates with 8,331 new members. The Blackhawks currently have partnerships with 56 hockey rinks in Illinois, but only four exist within the city of Chicago.
“The addition of a Blackhawks training and community facility is another step in the progress and advancement of our franchise as we continue to strive for consistent excellence both on and off the ice,” said Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough.
“Soon Malcolm X will get a new 21st century campus to complement the 21st century education they provide and a site that used to serve one of Chicago’s community colleges will soon serve as a community anchor, bringing even more economic opportunity to the Near North Side,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This plan creates a permanent home for the Blackhawks to train in Chicago and allows Rush University Medical Center, which has already been a great partner with Malcolm X, to expand it campus and further support the people who live and work in this neighborhood.”
Chicago Blackhawks Charities (CBC) will oversee year-round youth programs and clinics at the training center, ensuring the project’s community benefits extend to those who would otherwise be unable to cover the costs of ice time, equipment and transportation. CBC pledges to support programs and institutions throughout Illinois that focus on health and wellness, education and housing, while striving to serve local citizens and impact the lives of youth and their families in and around the city of Chicago. Since its inception in October 1993, Chicago Blackhawks Charities has contributed over $14 million to local non-profit organizations, including over $2 million over the past year to 28 community organizations that focus on health and wellness, education and housing.
“Any kid that wants to ‘Be Like Mike’ can go down the street and shoot hoops,” Wirtz said. “It’s a little tougher if a kid wants to be the next Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews. We’re thrilled to make this investment in our community and give more kids the opportunity to learn to skate and play this great game.”