This would be sweet as hell. Who would go?
Blackhawks may lace up at Soldier Field
PARK DISTRICT | Panel backs management firm that made pitch for outdoor hockey
February 13, 2008
BY ANDREW HERRMANN Staff Reporter [email protected]
A Chicago Park District panel recommends that a new contract to manage Soldier Field go to SMG, which made a pitch of hosting an outdoor Blackhawks hockey game at the lakefront stadium.
"I know SMG and the Blackhawks have been talking about trying to do an outdoor game,'' said Park District Supt. Timothy Mitchell. "I know the Hawks are interested and they're going to work with the NHL to see if that's something we can do in the near future."
Buffalo hosted an outdoor NHL game Jan. 1.
Mitchell said the district would like the hockey plan to include a college contest and a way to allow people to use the rink for pleasure skating in a week-long event.
"We think there would be a great interest in citizens skating inside Soldier Field between the colonnades,'' said Mitchell.
"I don't want to get into where we're at in negotiations in terms of time frame, but there will be a game at Soldier Field. It's just a matter of when,'' said SMG senior vice president Michael Evans.
But Blackhawks president John McDonough said discussions about Soldier Field have "been informal on a what-if basis,'' adding, "I have friends at all of the venues: Wrigley, U.S. Cellular. I think they'd all like to take a run at it."
The final decision on whether to stage an outdoor game in Chicago is up to the NHL, said McDonough. Earlier this year, some 71,000 hockey fans watched the Buffalo Sabres play in an outdoor football stadium in Buffalo.
SMG, which partnered with C3 Presents, a Texas-based promoter behind Lollapalooza, won the recommendation of a parks evaluation panel over Live Nation and a division of Comcast.
SMG will be paid a base fee plus incentives. Details of SMG's three-year contract, with a pair of one-year options, will be revealed Wednesday to the Park District Board, which is likely to approve the deal.
Under the new contract with SMG, which has managed Soldier Field since 2003, "there's an anticipation and expectation" district revenue will increase, Mitchell said.
Under the existing contract expiring March 1, the district made about $11 million a year, said Mitchell. While there were some 400 events staged there last year, most were smaller gatherings such as meetings held at the Stadium's Cadillac Club. Some 70 percent of the rent revenue came from the Chicago Bears.
SMG also touted adding extreme sports and a rodeo to Soldier Field, Mitchell said.