The Chicago Blackhawks are in the planning stage of building a $50 million, 105,000-square-foot two-rink hockey training facility, team chairman Rocky Wirtz said. Wirtz began mentioning the idea of a facility last year. The Blackhawks currently practice at Johnny's IceHouse West when the United Center is unavailable. The facility would be used by the Blackhawks and the community. No property has been designated for the facility yet. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressed his support for the facility Thursday during a news conference to announce a new office building for the Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls. "You heard what the mayor wanted, and I think that what the mayor wants, he is usually very persuasive," Wirtz said.
Emanuel said the city would not be providing any tax breaks to the Blackhawks and Bulls as it has in the past. "What happened in the past was one thing," Emanuel told reporters on Thursday. "Now we're at a point that there's a critical mass on the West Side and it's a good investment for them to make." Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane was hopeful last year the team would build its own training facility. He enjoyed using Notre Dame's shooting and stick-handling rooms during training camp in September. "I don't think we need to pitch it to them," Kane said in September. "I think they know. There are rumors about what's going on with the practice rink and things like that, so we'll see what happens. I'm sure they'll try to put something in like that, too." The facility would also be greatly appreciated by the city's youth hockey programs. Hockey On Your Block executive director Ray Lilja said in the summer he believed a Blackhawks' facility would make a significant impact. "That would make a major difference in this program," Lilja said. "I understand that Rocky is very much in favor in having us become one of their youth programs that they support. I've only heard rumors so far [about the facility]. We'll have plenty of ice when that happens."
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