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Blackhawks Unveil Practice Center

Author: Derrick Blakley

(CBS)  Touring the Chicago Backhawks’ gleaming new practice facility, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel did Thursday, you’ll see the expected: the posh locker room with the Indian head logo and the inviting whirlpool baths.

Most impressive isn’t what the Hawks built for themselves — it’s what they built for the city.

“We’re going to make sure that kids here on the West Side are exposed to both not only to the sport, but the discipline that comes with that sport, the professionalism that comes with that sport, that sense of a team,” Emanuel said.

The Blackhawks built two ice rinks, both open to the community 95 percent of the time. There’s a state-of-the-art gym that can accommodate 80 athletes, classrooms for tutoring and 22 locker rooms for youth and club teams.

It will be open 20 hours a day, seven days a week. The team is giving an hour’s ice time per week to Brad Erickson’s program, which teaches hockey to minority kids.

“It gives them an opportunity to skate and get on the ice, and try a different sport that maybe their friends didn’t play,” he says.

Through their own outreach programs, the Blackhawks will move Chicago Public Schools students from floor hockey right onto the ice.

“It will really broaden some horizons about this sport, and that’s exactly what we wanted to do,” Tovah McCord of the Blackhawks Foundation says.

Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz says the West Side has been good to his family. The $70-million facility, known as the MB Ice Arena, is the team’s way of giving back. It’s two blocks from the United Center, on the site of the old Malcom X College campus.

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