The Blackhawks officially announced their plans Thursday to build a new practice facility and community training center two blocks south of the United Center.
It will serve as a practice facility for the Blackhawks and also visiting NHL teams, but approximately 94 percent of it will be used by the community, particularly for young adult, youth and community programs.
And that was a major driving force in striking a deal with this project as soon as possible.
"Hockey's future is dictated by the ability of kids to get on the ice," Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said in a statement. "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.”
Said Blackhawks president & CEO John McDonough, “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."
The 125,000-square-foot facility is designed to have two NHL regulation-size rinks and is expected to cost roughly $50 million, which will be privately funded. It will be located on a four-acre site currently occupied by Malcolm X College, which is expected to move to its new campus in January 2016.
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The Blackhawks have called Johnny's IceHouse West their practice home since 2010, and their contract is set to expire in June 2017. The new practice facility gives them a permanent home, but perhaps more importantly, gives aspiring young hockey players in the Chicago area one as well.
“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.”