ROCKFORD - Hockey is still on
Workers are hard at work getting the rink ready to be filled with ice, prepping for the IceHogs pre-season opener on October 4. Crews aren't doing anything differently than they usually do this time of year, but management says they're ready for an influx of Blackhawks fans looking to cheer on Blackhawk prospects.
"I think we'll see some sort of increase. To measure that increase, I think it would be a little premature to do that," said Gordon Kaye, executive director for Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority, which manages the IceHogs.
"I mean at the end
of the day it is still a bit of a hike from
Kaye sort of downplayed the lockout because the IceHogs are somewhat a product of the NHL, acting at the farm team for the Chicago Blackhawks. With the lockout also comes uncertainty as well; it could end at anytime. Kaye says they aren't planning to do anything out of the ordinary to prepare for larger crowds. Kaye does say however, both old and new fans will have plenty of excitement to look forward to this season.
"Last year our goal was to introduce a new element every game," said Kaye. "That's again going to be our goal again this year."
Increased ticket sales for the IceHogs may also rub off on area businesses, making for an increase in revenue for restaurants and bars downtown. Newcomer to the downtown restaurant scene, District Bar & Grille, says they're prepping for increased business by staffing accordingly. David Boge, general manager of District, says they're already receiving dinner reservations for times before IceHogs games.
"We've already gotten feedback from season ticket holders that have already said that they're very grateful that we're here, they look forward to coming here before and after the games," said Boge. "We've already been booking parties, some as large as 100 people.
District's definitely on the IceHog bandwagon. They're sponsoring the IceHogs coaches show.
games bring in about 4,000 fans, with capacity being around 6,000. IceHog management wants to see the