Rockford lands $23 million to upgrade BMO Harris Bank Center

Chicago Blackhawks announce purchase of Rockford IceHogs; team to remain in the Forest City until 2036.
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 6:57 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Rockford scores the ultimate power play as the Chicago Blackhawks, the city, the Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority reach a deal to keep the IceHogs in the game for the next 15 years - and improve one of our major event spaces.

The day started with a RAVE board meeting for a vote, and ended with the Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announcing a multi-million dollar investment into the BMO Harris Bank Center.

“I am so proud to announce that we’re investing in a stronger future for the City of Rockford,” said Gov. Pritzker.

That investment - $23 million - will be poured into renovations at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The money will come from the City of Rockford, the RAVE board, the state of Illinois and the Chicago Blackhawks.

“This investment will create over 250 construction jobs, retain hundreds of existing positions at the arena, and generate tens of millions dollars in economic activity for this region,” Gov. Pritzker said.

Upgrades to the center will include enhanced concessions areas and guest experience, an upgrade to audio and visual technology, a new box office and space for sports betting. $13 million of the renovation project comes from the Rebuild Illinois plan. All this money will keep the IceHogs in Rockford for at least 15 more years.

“This is an exciting day for the Chicago Blackhawks,” said Rocky Wirtz, Chicago Blackhawks Chairman and owner.

The deal lets the National Hockey League’s Blackhawks officially acquire the IceHogs.

“Not only is this great news for the IceHogs and Rockford area IceHogs fans, but this is big news for downtown hospitality businesses,” said Senator Steve Stadelman.

“It’s going to be a phenomenal experience to come here as a fan,” said RAVE board Chairman Craig Thomas.

Leaders said this is a significant investment for the community, potentially bringing in $382 million in economic activity for the state and region.

“There’s a lot of things happening here in Rockford,” said Sylvia Garcia, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Acting Director.

The sale of the IceHogs still needs to be cleared by the American Hockey League and final documents signed.

The Blackhawks will shell out $11.8 million for the IceHogs franchise.

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