Rockford, Illinois News

Blackhawks formalize purchase of Rockford IceHogs

ROCKFORD — The Chicago Blackhawks joined the ranks of NHL clubs that own their American Hockey League team Wednesday, formalizing its purchase of the Rockford IceHogs from the Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority (RAVE).

The sale was unanimously approved by RAVE Wednesday morning.

The Blackhawks will pay $11.8 million for the IceHogs. The deal includes an agreement with the City of Rockford to keep the team in the Forest City for 15 years and a $13 million commitment from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The state’s investment is part of a multi-year, $23 million capital-improvement plan to renovate the 40-year-old BMO Harris Bank Center.

“We are fortunate to have world-class hockey being played right here in the city of Rockford,” Mayor Tom McNamara said at press conference Wednesday. “We value our partnership with the Blackhawks and look forward to more outstanding hockey at the BMO for years to come.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was on hand Wednesday, calling Rockford a city on the rise. He said the state’s contribution will help create 250 construction jobs, retain hundreds of positions at the BMO Harris Bank Center, and generate tens of millions in economic activity for the region.

“We are also opening the door for the Chicago Blackhawks to secure a long-term presence here in Rockford,” Pritzker said. “By leveraging our historic Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan, [we] scored a winning combination for Illinois, for Rockford, for the Chicago Blackhawks, the Rockford IceHogs and, just as important, for all the fans to come back to the BMO to cheer on their hometown team.”

The IceHogs have graduated more than 100 player to the Blackhawks, 22 of whom became Stanley Cup champions.

“For the past 14 years, the Rockford IceHogs have been an invaluable asset as an affiliate for the development of our players and staff at the Chicago Blackhawks,” President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman said in a release. “We look forward to continuing to use the IceHogs as an extension of the Blackhawks to reinvigorate our roster with talent that is built from within, develop our young players and create depth throughout our system.”

Nineteen NHL clubs now own their AHL affiliate. They include the Anahiem Ducks (San Diego Gulls), Dallas Stars (Texas Stars), Minnesota Wild (Iowa Wild), Toronto Maple Leafs (Toronto Marlies) and the Vegas Golden Knights (Henderson Silver Knights). The expansion Seattle Kraken, which will begin play next season, will own its AHL team in Palm Springs, California.