Blackhawks To Buy AHL Affiliate IceHogs; $23 Million Capital Improvement Project Set Up To Renovate Rockford’s BMO Harris Bank Center

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (CBS) — The Blackhawks will now own their AHL affiliate as they purchase the IceHogs from the City of Rockford.

On Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker joined the Blackhawks, the City of Rockford, the Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority (RAVE), and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in announcing a $23 million capital project to renovate the BMO Harris Bank Center where the IceHogs play.

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The project will lay the groundwork for the acquisition of the IceHogs by the Blackhawks, the governor’s office said.

“Not only will this $13 million investment create over 250 construction jobs, retain hundreds of existing positions at the arena, and generate tens of millions in economic activity for the region – but we’re also opening the door for the Chicago Blackhawks to formally purchase their AHL affiliate, securing the IceHog’s long-term presence in Rockford,” Gov. Pritzker said in a news release. “By leveraging our historic Rebuild Illinois capital plan, we have scored a winning combination for Illinois, for Rockford, for the Chicago Blackhawks, and for the Rockford IceHogs – and just as importantly, for all the fans who are excited to come back to the BMO to cheer on the hometown team.”

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“The Rockford IceHogs have played a critical role in our franchise’s success, and today, the IceHogs officially become a part of the Chicago Blackhawks family,” Blackhawks Chairman W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz and Chief Executive Officer Danny Wirtz said in the release. “Not only is this an exciting opportunity from a hockey perspective, but in partnership with the City of Rockford and the State of Illinois, we are reinvesting in Illinois to generate positive economic as well as philanthropic impact through our Chicago Blackhawks Foundation, further solidifying the team’s standing in the community.”

The state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will provide $13 million in Rebuild Illinois grant funding for the project, which will serve as the foundation for a total of $23 million in capital improvements to the 40-year-old Rockford arena. RAVE and the City of Rockford will put in the remaining $10 million.

The Blackhawks will pay $11.8 million to buy the IceHogs, subject to AHL approval and the finalization of legal documentation.

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The IceHogs have been the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate since 2007. A total of 128 IceHogs have appeared in NHL games since then, an 97 of them have skate with the Blackhawks.

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