- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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Johnny’s IceHouse owner Tom Moro takes pride in his business’s connection to the Chicago Blackhawks.
“They’ve been using our facilities the past six years, so all three Cups have come while they’ve been here,” Moro said by phone on Thursday.
That tie will soon change. The Blackhawks announced Wednesday their plans to build a practice facility and community center within the next two years. They have a contract with Johnny’s IceHouse until June of 2017.
While Moro will lose the Blackhawks, who rent a locker room and ice time at Johnny’s IceHouse West, he was excited for what the new facility would mean for the Blackhawks, the community and his own business.
“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for Chicago hockey,” said Moro, whose facilities are utilized for everything from high school hockey to beginners’ classes. “I think it’s going to be exciting for the kids who are skating and who want to be skating more. It’s going to be exciting for everyone who is involved in the sport. It’s a good opportunity. I think they want to grow the sport like we want to grow the sport.
“From our standpoint, they’re a little bit over three percent of our revenue. It’s not a financial issue. We hate to lose them. They’re a great customer to have. It gives us options. We’re formulating plans what do with the space. We have opportunities for existing customers and new ones. We’re bursting at the seams.”
The Blackhawks previously practiced at The Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville, Ill. They began practicing at Johnny’s IceHouse East at the beginning of the 2009-10 season and moved to Johnny’s IceHouse West in February of 2010.
Until the Blackhawks complete their new facility and move in, Moro plans for everything to remain the same.
“We’re here to help them with whatever they need,” Moro said. “We have a good relationship with them. That’s not going to change.”