Chicago is an ice skating town in an ice skating region. When I moved to the Midwest for the first time in 1995 I was surprised to see that rather than hiding inside from the elements in winter, many people embraced the cold. I was amused and intrigued by all the home-made, clearly seasonal ice hockey rinks I saw in people’s backyards.
The city of Chicago is getting a new ice skating facility — a big one. One that will be used by the Chicago Blackhawks for practices so they can continue giving fans seasons full of thrills, and perhaps also be the tool through which the city pops out a Winter Olympics champion or two. With over 30,000 hockey players registered with Hockey USA, the odds are aren’t bad.
It’s going to be built on the eastern half of the superblock that is now occupied by Malcolm X College, at West Jackson Boulevard and South Wood Street, just north of I-209/the Eisenhower Expressway. The developers describe it thusly:
Project includes a full service community hockey training center, including two regulation sized ice sheets with capacity for approximately 300 spectators in each rink, locker rooms, fitness facility, food & beverage, and related space. Project also includes training and fitness facilities to be used by the Chicago Blackhawks Hockey Club as its primary training facility. The Blackhawks will utilize the community ice sheets during its practice times.
The Training Facility, with its central location near downtown, will provide an ideal location for current and future generations of Chicagoans to learn to skate and to play the sport of hockey. The Facility will blend into the surrounding urban context, providing a cohesive design with other nearby athletic facilities, including the United Center and the Chicago Bulls new training facility, the Advocate Center, while providing appropriate building size and modern design aesthetics. The Training Facility will provide hockey and ice skating programs to a wide range of users, with a focus on youth development. Programs will include ice skating, figure skating, recreational skating, recreational and advanced hockey leagues, tournaments, high school and college teams, semi-professional teams, off-ice training – including fitness and nutritional programs, and group events.
Wirtz Corporation and the Chicago Blackhawks are committed to helping underprivileged youth by providing training and development programs related to the sport of hockey. Wirtz will partner with Chicago Blackhawks Charities to provide free hockey and off-ice development programs for local youth groups.
This, along with the new Bulls practice facility, and other sports and office projects in the area immediately surrounding the United Center may be what’s needed to turn a run-down expanse of the city’s urban core into a lively sports neighborhood. Perhaps something similar to Wrigleyville, which whether you like the Cubs and the Cubs fans or not, is certainly an area brimming with vitality.
As new residential development pushes this way from the West Loop and Greektown, it’s not inconceivable that new stores, bars, and restaurants will proliferate to service the new residents and businesses coming to the area and to take advantage of the surges of suburban and outlander tourists attracted by professional sports and entertainment events at United Center. The addition of year-round large-scale service facilities like this one can help stabilize the neighborhood economy in a way that a mega-arena like the United Center can’t.
- Address: 1801 West Jackson Boulevard
- Developer: Blackhawk Community Ice Rink, LLC
- Developer: Wirtz Corporation
- Developer: Chicago Stadium Corporation
- Developer: Chicago Blackhawks Hockey Club
- Architecture firm: HOK
- Cost: $50 million
- Current land owner: Community College District No. 508
- Anticipated land acquisition: June, 2016
- Anticipated construction start: July, 2016
- Anticipated completion: November, 2017
- Gross size: 218,671 square feet (5.02 acres)
- Net size: 174,240 square feet (four acres)
- Building footprint: 94,585 square feet
- Parking footprint: 50,637 square feet
- Height: 52 feet
- Parking: 127 spaces (56 non-public during practices). Overflow parking at the new Malcolm X College and United Center parking lots.
- Bicycle parking: 26 spaces
- Loading dock: one (minimum)
- Zoning: B3-3 (Community Shopping District)
- Floor area ratio: 3.0
- Spectator seating: 300 per rink
- Special event/banquet capacity: 2,800
- Green roof alert! 23,728 square feet
- Permeable paving: 2,828 square feet
- Number of trees: 62 (70 required by city code)
- Illuminated signs on building: 4, totaling 2,150 square feet
- Video screens on building: 1, totaling 600 square feet
- Video screens not on building: 2, totaling 2,223 square feet