|General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that beginning with the 2007-08 season, the Blackhawks will move their American Hockey League affiliation from Norfolk, Virginia to Rockford, Illinois. |
"We are very excited to bring our American Hockey League team to Rockford'" said Dale Tallon. "The close proximity of Rockford to Chicago made this a perfect fit. Having our AHL affiliation so close to Chicago will give us better access in terms of monitoring the progress of our players as well as recalling players. It will also be better for Blackhawk fans who will be able to follow the progress of the team and its players much easier. From a geographic standpoint, Rockford is an ideal location."
"I want to thank Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey, Winnebago County Chairman Scott Christiansen, the Rockford City Council, and the Winnebago County Board in helping to make this affiliation possible," added Tallon. "We will have a young, exciting team as we continue to develop players who will eventually be playing 60 miles up the road in Chicago for the Blackhawks. We are looking forward to developing great rivalries with all the other Midwestern teams in the AHL. I know all the hockey fans in Rockford will enjoy the exciting brand of hockey we will provide for them over the next several years."
Tallon also said, "I want to thank Ken Young, owner of the Norfolk Admirals, the city of Norfolk and Mayor Paul Fraim, and the fans of the Norfolk Admirals who have been great to the Blackhawks over the past seven years. They have treated the Blackhawks organization with class and dignity and it was a pleasure having our team in Norfolk."
The Blackhawks have had their American Hockey League affiliation in Norfolk since the 2000-01 season. Since that time, the Norfolk Admirals have made the playoffs each season and have won two division titles. This season, the Admirals are again atop the standings in the American Hockey League with the greatest number of young prospects in the league. Through 67 games, the Admirals have a record of 45-18-5-1 for 96 points which is the best in the American Hockey League. They will again make the playoffs and are on the verge of winning another division title.
"The City of Rockford and the MetroCentre will be an excellent addition to the American Hockey League," said AHL President and CEO Dave Andrews. "Rockford's position on the AHL landscape and its new relationship with the Chicago Blackhawks will create marketing and player development advantages as well as a strong new geographic rival for our other Western Conference clubs."
"This is a major economic catalyst for the central core of the City, and is necessary for the Rockford overall, and MetroCentre specifically, to compete amongst other areas," said Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey. "The commitment by the Chicago Blackhawks to a ten-year lease with the MetroCentre is an unprecedented demonstration of its strong commitment to the community to make this happen, and bring even more success to the MetroCentre and hockey in Rockford - spurring economic dollars into our community as this is estimated to provide $30 million in gross economic impact annually to our region."
Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen: " This is a historic moment, in that this is the first time in the MetroCentre's 25-year history that Winnebago County is partnering with the City and the MetroCentre financially," said Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen. "This will increase jobs, spur further economic growth, put Rockford on the map nationally, and continue to provide the citizens of Winnebago County with a top-notch entertainment venue. What's even more historic is that the City and County have joined together to develop a major economic development project by leveraging existing revenue sources without raising property or sales tax revenues."
"We are in an increasingly competitive environment with other regions," said Centre Events General Manager Corey Pearson." Just as the Blackhawks know that moving their American Hockey League franchise to Rockford will help them compete, getting Rockford's name consistently recognized into AHL metropolitan markets totaling over 46 million people can do nothing but increase economic opportunities for our community."
"The MetroCentre currently draws over 70 percent of our patrons from outside a 35-mile radius of Rockford for national touring shows. Securing the Chicago Blackhawks' affiliate in the American Hockey League bolsters our position as a major regional destination and venue for the Chicago market."
"This community has embraced IceHogs hockey and I am proud of the franchise that we have built in Rockford," said Rockford IceHogs owner Dr. Kris Tumilowicz. "Our success, and the fans' commitment to the IceHogs, has lead to this incredible opportunity to move professional hockey in Rockford to the next level."