You know we’ve really hit the hockey desert of the summer when the only news is that the Hawks have finally found an area to build their new practice facility. This has been going on for a while, two years I think, and the problem was that the land that the Hawks owned around the U.C., none had a lot big enough to fit the kind of facility they wanted. The Bulls basically took the one that would have worked, and everything else was kind of sandwiched by the pink line tracks (which should raise a question about just why the United Center doesn’t have an “L” stop, but we’ll have that discussion at another time. If you want to read more about that, check out this article.). There’s also the new office building being put up directly east of the arena complicating things.
Now I know what you’re expecting, and like pretty much every other Chicago resident whenever Rahm Emanuel crawls out of his hole to trumpet something my Bullshit Meter starts pinging wildly. However, I don’t think there’s much to complain about here. The Hawks are going to pay the cost of building it. I’m sure they’re getting some sort of deal on the land which used to belong to city college Malcolm X. While Rahmulous says it’s “a market deal,” that could mean just about anything with any sort of loopholes.
I suppose there would be an argument to use that land for something of a wider public good, but I wouldn’t have any idea what that would be (and selfishly it’s yet another location I’d like to see the Fire play other than Bridgeview, bringing the number on that list into the low 1000s. But that would have less public use than this, I guess). The Hawks and Rocky Wirtz specifically are trotting out that they’re doing this to expand the number of rinks in the city and growing the sport. And while that’s true, it’s not like they’re going to provide those sheets to league’s and school’s for free, I’m just going to go ahead and guess.
If anything, if we want to satiate our cynical sides and at least somewhat hold Rocky to his word, then we should keep an eye on how much community development they do with the rink. Considering where it is, it would be really nice if the Hawks ran a lot of charitable programs trying to get the most local residents involved in the game at this facility. Free equipment, free hockey schools for kids who would need such a thing. I imagine the Hawks will do this too, but it’s something to keep an eye on for sure and I hope they really expand some of these with their own building. That would be my only concern. The Hawks have a chance to be the entire city’s team, if they aren’t already, and this would only help them achieve that.
Other than that, I’ve always thought it was weird the Hawks didn’t have their own facility, though we knew why under the Old Man. That the Hawks were driving out to Bensenville for years was only typical (and that was as recently as Kane’s and Toews’s rookie years, I think). I have no doubts that the actual facility will be top of the line, a true marvel to attract other free agents and make their own players love it here even more. There’s a lot the Hawks can do with this, and I hope they do.