Rahm tests the ice at new Black­hawks prac­tice fa­cil­ity

W. Side arena will be open to com­mu­nity

Chicago Sun-Times - - CITY BEAT - BY MADELINE KEN­NEY Staff Reporter Email: mken­ney@ sun­times. com Twit­ter: @ mad­ken­ney

Re­porters on Thurs­day were of­fered a look around the Chicago Black­hawks’ new prac­tice fa­cil­ity — which will be open to the com­mu­nity as well.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was there, too, get­ting a “Mayor” sweater and tak­ing a few prac­tice shots with for­mer Black­hawks winger Daniel Car­cillo in his ear.

Emanuel said — twice — if he had a pic­ture of fre­quent Chicago critic Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to aim at, he would’ve done a lot bet­ter.

Black­hawks Chair­man Rocky Wirtz, mean­while, wouldn’t mind tak­ing aim at the city’s amuse­ment tax. Chicago levies a 9 per­cent tax on movies, con­certs, sport­ing events, live the­ater and en­ter­tain­ment venues with a seat­ing ca­pac­ity of more than 750. Wirtz has com­plained about it be­fore.

This time, he said, he didn’t bring it up to the mayor, “but he knows how we feel. You know, we have one of the high­est taxes in the coun­try. So, I think it speaks for it­self.”

As for try­ing to change the mayor’s mind: “I don’t know. Any­thing can hap­pen.”

The 125,000- square- foot, $ 65 mil­lion MB Ice Arena is on the for­mer site of Mal­colm X Col­lege, 1801 W. Jack­son Blvd. The 11- acre site is be­ing shared by the Hawks, with four acres, and Rush Uni­ver­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter, which is build­ing a $ 500 mil­lion aca­demic vil­lage on its seven acres.

To­gether, the Black­hawks and Rush paid $ 26.7 mil­lion for the land. That matches the value placed on the 486,526 square feet of land by the city’s third- party ap­praiser.

But only $ 24.3 mil­lion of that money was paid in cash. The rest will be a credit for “com­mu­nity benefits.”

The fa­cil­ity, which fea­tures two ice rinks, 10 locker rooms and a weight room, will also serve as a hub for youth hockey de­vel­op­ment pro­grams, recre­ational leagues and high school teams.

“Kids can­not be what they can­not see,” Emanuel said at the arena. He also called the new com­mu­nity cen­ter a “great in­vest­ment.”

Un­like the Black­hawks’ cur­rent train­ing cen­ter, Johnny’s Ice House, the new arena will have a restau­rant and cof­fee shop, a rooftop deck and ad­di­tional space for pub­lic func­tions. There are also sev­eral class­rooms within the fa­cil­ity to be used by Chicago Pub­lic School stu­dents on health, well­ness and phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion classes.

Con­tribut­ing: Fran Spielman

MB Ice Arena is on the for­mer site of Mal­colm X Col­lege.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel checks out the new Chicago Black­hawks prac­tice fa­cil­ity, MB Ice Arena, at 1801 W. Jack­son Blvd. | MADELINE KEN­NEY/ SUN- TIMES PHO­TOS

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