West Side!

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.

  • 630Suburbanite

    Can you guys please learn how to use apostrophes? This is your job, isn’t it?

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      That’s your biggest problem dude I think overall life’s going pretty for you.

  • DJ

    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.

    How many teams did have their own facilities while the Old Man was alive? Not many, I’ll guess. And the modern wave of arena building sees practice facilities (courts for basketball and a second rink for hockey) directly included in the design. Now, in the case of Nashville, I would argue it was a necessity because Bridgestone’s primary function is to be the major indoor concert venue in one of America’s major music cities (that and Austin). But Nationwide in Columbus has two rinks as well.

  • joe

    Just wondering how much my season tickets will be going up to pay for this baby?

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      Yeah I remember seeing seeing Emanuel w/ a seat – at the glass but of course – for a playoff game. And Quinn in a home sweater w/ his name of the back and a “C” on the front.

      I’d rather be a gay crack whore than a politician.

      • DJ

        Where was Quinn sitting? At White Sox games, he retained his upper deck seats, despite efforts by the Sox to move him down to the lower level.

        • 60MinutesBaby60

          200 level – I will give the guy that. Seeing Emanuel strong-arming an uber choice location was annoying tho certainly not surprising.

          PS – Many MANY years ago (back in my idealistic years) I actually donated 25 bucks to Quinn (his mailing addy was his own house) but lived to regret that too – every other month a new “please donate” mailing.

          Hey change of subject? Do you think the Hawks will be able to unload 29’s cap hit?

    • ItNeverEnds

      well, they only went up like 35% this season for me, so i’m sure they can squeeze more out of me yet

  • Andrew Heitman

    A double sheet facility in a real city attracts a ton of interest for youth tournaments. USA hockey will probably look at the area with this, and the Ice house, to host national tournaments. Good stuff.

  • McGiggidy

    If they do build a state of the art facility, which will likely have pretty good ice, do you think they will finally address that choppy pond in the UC?

    • AF_Cheddarhead

      The biggest problem with the UC is that it is a multi-use facility. Most of the multi-use arenas have problems with the ice. Granted the UC has the rep of having some of the worst ice.

  • lisa simpson

    The Hull Community Rink in Cicero by me (and the Wirtz Distribution Moon Base, natch) gets plenty of community burn. It’s not nearly the size that this new facility will be, but hopefully is an indicator of possible future use.