Blackhawks Set To Host NHL Draft, Fan Fest At United Center

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s that time of year again; Lord Stanley’s Cup has been handed over and hockey teams are looking to replenish the troops for next season. The NHL Draft begins Friday night at the United Center.

As part of the NHL Draft, the Blackhawks are hosting a free fan festival at parking lot C at the United Center. It starts at 3 p.m. Friday, and will feature a virtual reality Zamboni, pop-up ball hockey rink, a 53-foot truck filled with pieces of Blackhawks history, photo opportunities with the Stanley Cup, live music, and more.

As league executives gathered in Chicago, the Blackhawks invited NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman for a sneak peek at what eventually will be a brand new $65 million practice facility at Damen and Van Buren.

The privately funded practice center will be used by both the Blackhawks and visiting teams. The 125,000-square-foot facility will have two NHL-sized rinks,and should be open by the end of the year.

The Blackhawks said 94 percent of the arena’s use will be by the community; including youth hockey development programs, high school hockey teams, and recreational leagues.

“What we focus on in hockey is the values and attributes attendant to our game; physical fitness, hard work, teamwork, leadership. All skills that are important to young people, and if this facility helps the young people in this community absorb and achieve those values, then this is a success that rivals as many Stanley Cups as can be brought back to Chicago,” Bettman said.

The first round of the NHL Draft begins at 6 p.m. Friday. Rounds 2-7 will be held Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.

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