For nine years the Blackhawks and IceHogs have had a great relationship, and on Thursday the two organizations decided to stick together.
“There’s a sense of partnership here that we’ve been made to feel welcome from day one,” says Blackhawks President John McDonough.” The city has really embraced our franchise.
“It’s nice to have the stability,” says IceHogs Head Coach Ted Dent. “There’s not a lot of organizations that have long-term affiliation agreements. You see a lot of American League teams switching affiliations every two or three years. So to have that stability I think is nice for everyone.”
Since the partnership began 67 players have suited up for both teams, and 22 of them have hoisted the Stanley Cup. But the numbers that really stick out are the seats filled at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The IceHogs set new attendance records this past season with over 190 thousand total fans, and over five thousand per game. That’s a 23 percent increase since 2007.
“You know the amount of the amount of support they get from these local fans is tremendous,” says Blackhawks General Manager of Minor Affiliations. “They feel part of the community, and one of the things we make sure that continue every year is that these players will be apart of this community.”
“When our players get to the NHL and they talk in such favorable terms about what it was like to play in Rockford,” says McDonough. “The buzz, the reputation about what a great market this is. All of those things played a factor.”
Nothing brings folks to downtown Rockford like the IceHogs do, and as a result downtown Rockford has been on the upswing. The extension will continue it’s growth.
“I expect us to have a couple of hotels built over the next five years,” says Mayor of Rockford Larry Morrissey. “I expect us to have additional retail housing support in our downtown. That puts us on the map as a player in the Chicago metro market place.”
((Scott Christiansen, Winnebago County Chairman at 1:45))
“People feel great coming down here,” says Winnebago Scott Christiansen. “They feel safe. So we see city markets, we see many other things going as a result of this whole affiliation with the Blackhawks.”
With the continued partnership the city hopes to one day host the Blackhawks for an exhibition game in Rockford.