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 site of the old 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, 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