The Chicago Blackhawks are (were) one of the few NHL teams in the league to not have ownership over their AHL minor league affiliate. But according to a report by Scott Leber of WTVO in Rockford, that could be changing soon with the Blackhawks set to purchase the Rockford IceHogs.
The IceHogs are currently owned by the City of Rockford (and overseen by RAVE) and have been the AHL affiliate of the Blackhawks since the 2007-08 season.
From the report:
The Blackhawks reportedly want to make upwards of $20 million in improvements to the BMO Harris Bank Center, $16 million of which has already been secured in state funds so Rockford taxpayers won’t be on the hook for that money.
The move also benefits the Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority (RAVE), which operates the BMO Harris Bank Center. RAVE has been paying $400,000 per year to the Blackhawks as part of the affiliation agreement.
An official announcement is expected to be made as soon as Wednesday, according to Leber.
UPDATE: The RAVE board approved a request for proposal to accept bids to sell the IceHogs in conjunction with a long-term lease agreement to keep the IceHogs in Rockford on Wednesday night. This proposal marks the next step in the process of RAVE accepting bids from the Blackhawks on the purchase of the team.
The IceHogs have been rumored in recent years to be purchased by other clubs or have their affiliation changed due to lower attendance numbers. With the reported purchase, the Blackhawks are not planning to move the IceHogs out of Rockford, but rather investing in their minor league market. The current affiliation agreement between Rockford and Chicago runs through the 2021-22 season.