The Chicago Blackhawks announced today that they have agreed to a long-term partnership with the Chicago Mission AAA Hockey Club, which will allow the Mission to call the Blackhawks Community Ice Arena their home rink.
"Partnering with a top echelon organization like the Chicago Mission allows us to increasingly aid the development of youth hockey players across the Chicagoland area from the time they learn to skate until they head to college," said Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough. "We are looking forward to being a larger part of the Mission's evolution, while following the progress of so many bright careers."
"We are incredibly excited to be able to call the Blackhawks Community Ice Arena home to the Chicago Mission and couldn't be more thankful for the support the Blackhawks have shown for our organization," said Chicago Mission Hockey Director Gino Cavallini. "The state-of-the-art facilities will provide us with the chance to further expand our training programs and continue to put Mission alumni in positions to succeed both on and off the ice."
The Chicago Mission Hockey Club is a top Tier I AAA hockey organization with boys' and girls' teams. The Mission is a charitable 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2001 to help players succeed by giving them the guidance required to flourish in athletics, academics and life. Chicago Mission has placed 183 Division I players, 44 Division III players and 27 national team players between the girls' and boys' programs, in addition to 14 NHL draft picks and eight current NHL players. Mission alumni who are currently within the Blackhawks system include Vinnie Hinostroza, Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz, Anthony Louis and Evan Mosey; other NHL players include Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg), John Moore (New Jersey), William Nylander (Toronto), Christian Dvorak (Arizona) and Christian Fischer (Arizona). Since 2006, the Mission have won four national championships, been national runners-up seven times and are perennially ranked in the top five in the nation.
The 125,000 square-foot Chicago Blackhawks Community Ice Arena, located two blocks south of the United Center on a four-acre site formerly housing Malcolm X College, is set to open in December 2017. The state-of-the-art facility will house year-round youth hockey development programs, recreational leagues and events, and serve as the practice facility for the organization and visiting NHL teams. The facility will contain two NHL regulation-size ice rinks, spectator seating and a dedicated oasis parking lot to serve facility guests and buses. Approximately 94 percent of its utilization will be from outside the Blackhawks organization, including by young adult, youth and community programs for children in Chicago. The project is expected to create 21 permanent and 250 construction jobs. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz broke ground on the organization's $55 million Community Training Center on June 15, 2016.
Per USA Hockey, Illinois ranked fifth in the nation with 31,558 registered hockey players during the 2015-16 season, marking a 42 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 9,336 new members. The Blackhawks currently have partnerships with 66 hockey rinks in Illinois, but only four exist within the city of Chicago.