Cool Collaborations: Ice Arenas Built out of Mutually Beneficial Partnerships between Hockey Teams and Park Districts

Article excerpt

When two or more entities share a project vision and merge resources to make it a reality, the results can offer win-win opportunities for all involved, attaining economies that would have unlikely been realized by each party operating independently. This philosophy has evolved out of two, new Midwest ice arenas, which are the result of joint efforts among different groups with the same vision: high-quality ice in a facility appointed with modern amenities.

In Hoffman Estates, Ill., for example, a partnership between the community's park district and the Chicago Wolves Hockey team was formed to yield a new ice facility in the form of a $12.5 million expansion and renovation to an existing community center. The new space was designed for Hoffman Estate Park District employees' offices, as well as new fitness space for the community center.

Central to the project at the Black-hawk Community Center, though, are the two professional-grade ice rinks that accommodate 800 spectators, and are supported by locker facilities and operations offices for the Chicago Wolves, an American Hockey League (AHL) West Division team that needed a new practice venue.

"This project is not only an exceptional example of a public/private-sector initiative, but what further sets it apart is that the private-sector player is such a well-recognized organization," says Michael T. Williams, principal and chief executive officer of the architecture firm charged with developing a design for an ice arena that would meet facility requirements for each of the two organizations.

Mutual Understanding

The Chicago Wolves team was established 10 years ago as an International Hockey League franchise, and went on to capture two Turner Cup Championships before jumping to the AHL, where the team garnered the Calder Cup Championship in 2002. While the Wolves play regular season home games at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, the team had been looking for a place to move its practice activities.

"We sought out someone who needed an arena and was interested in what we have to offer," relates Wolves General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff "The partnership with the Hoffman Estates Park District not only gives us an opportunity to promote pure hockey, but creates a training center second to none and puts us on the same level as some National Hockey League teams."

"The Wolves were in the market for a new practice facility," says Dean Bostrom, executive director of the Hoffman Estates Park District. "We were very interested in the prospect because of the opportunities it would provide not just Hoffman Estates residents, but surrounding communities as well. So the driving decision to collaborate was based on a mutual understanding of what each organization could offer the other--but, more importantly, offer the community."

The choice to build a new ice arena with a park district partner, according to Williams, offers significant benefits to both the professional team and the park district. "The Wolves had a keen interest in creating a new practice venue for the team, yet wanted a platform from which to provide teaching and introduce youth hockey development programs."

The Northwest suburban location provides a point from which to launch outreach initiatives that could potentially be expanded throughout the greater Chicago area, Williams says. Indeed, a goal of the Wolves organization is to "promote youth hockey at the grass roots level in the area."

A Running Start

The arrangement offers the park district some distinct advantages, as well. "This joint effort offers the public-sector participant, involved in a relationship with a highly regarded organization, [to] provide financial resources, as well as boost park district programs by sharing athletic skills and talents of its seasoned professionals and managerial staff," says Williams.

Project Manager Kate Ditchman of the architecture firm adds, "Contracting with the Wolves has benefited the park district with added funding. …