The NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks are to invest $23 million to upgrade the BMO Harris Bank Center in the city of Rockford, Illinois.
The project will spur regional economic development and lay the groundwork for the acquisition of Rockford-based professional hockey team, the Rockford IceHogs, by the Blackhawks.
Fueled in part by Governor JB Pritzker’s bipartisan Rebuild Illinois $45 billion capital plan, the project will modernise Rockford’s largest destination asset, creating over 250 construction jobs, retaining hundreds of existing full-time positions, and generating millions in economic activity to the region.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will provide $13 million in Rebuild Illinois grant funding, acting as the foundation for an overall $23 million in capital improvements to the 40-year-old facility.
Another $10 million includes short and long-term capital from RAVE and the City of Rockford, enabling savings from the sale of the team and other financing sources to make upgrades to the BMO Harris Bank Center.
The investment will support necessary infrastructure improvements, improved audio-visual and digital technology, enhanced guest experience and concession areas, space for sports betting, and other modernised customer amenities. Additionally, the capital plan will upgrade BMO Harris Bank Center’s back-of-house facilities
Governor JB Pritzker 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.
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.
Blackhawks chairman W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz and CEO Danny Wirtz said:
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.
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.