Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz today broke ground on the organization’s new 125,000 square-foot Community Training Center on the Near West Side. 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 National Hockey League (NHL) teams.
“This new facility is a win for the Chicago Blackhawks and a win for Chicago’s youth,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This training center will be a community hub, providing programs for young people and opportunities for the neighborhood. I want to thank Rocky Wirtz and the entire Blackhawks organization for building not just a great new facility but also helping to build more great futures for the children of Chicago.”
“This facility will serve as the new epicenter for hockey development in Chicago. While benefitting the Chicago Blackhawks, the vast majority of time the ice will be used by adult, youth and recreational leagues, and programs that support hockey development for underprivileged youth throughout the city,” Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz said. “Unlike other sports that can be played on the street or in the park, hockey depends on access to ice, and that remains one of the biggest challenges to growing the sport. By developing this facility, we are investing in youth hockey in Chicago and the future of the sport.”
The $55 million Chicago Blackhawks Community Training Center, 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 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 Emanuel and Rocky Wirtz were joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by Blackhawks President and Chief Executive Officer John McDonough, Alderman Walter Burnett (27th), Blackhawks Community Liaison Jamal Mayers, Near West Side Development Corp. Executive Director Earnest Gates and children from local youth hockey leagues.
“Our goal each year is to be in a position to win the Stanley Cup,” Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough said. “This state-of-the-art facility will provide our team with one of the best training centers in the NHL. At the same time, the vast majority of ice time will be utilized by youth, adult and recreational leagues. This will not only increase fans’ passion for the sport of hockey, but also bring it to new audiences.”
The Blackhawks, winners of three of the last seven Stanley Cup Championships, have a dedicated history of investing in the Near West Side. In 1992, in partnership with Jerry Reinsdorf, majority owner and Team Chairman of the Chicago Bulls, the Blackhawks broke ground on the United Center. Since then, the United Center has served as an economic incubator for the area, hosting over 200 events each year and drawing millions of dollars of investment to the neighborhood. In 2015, the United Center Joint Venture began development of a privately-funded $100 million standalone office building. The new office structure, which will be completed this year, will include a 10,000 square foot ground-level Bulls and Blackhawks retail store. Bridging the new building and the United Center will be a public atrium for fans and guests to gather before, during and after games or events. With the addition of the Community Training Center, the cumulative private investment includes well over $155 million.
The Blackhawks training center is part of a project that includes a new academic campus for Rush University Medical Center. The $500 million academic campus at 301-339 S. Damen Ave. will include four mixed-use buildings containing 1.4 million square feet of classrooms, offices, health clinics, retail space and 300 dormitory rooms.
In February, Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Blackhawks announced that the organization will host the 2017 NHL Draft™ at the United Center, The 2017 event will mark the first time the Blackhawks and the City of Chicago will host the NHL Draft.