NORWOOD PARK — A new rink near Taft High School will allow neighbors to play hockey regardless of the weather.
Construction of the rink began on Aug. 6 and was completed Oct. 18. The project was funded by the Chicago Blackhawks, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association Industry Growth Fund — a fund is aimed at increasing the accessibility of youth hockey.
The new 75-foot x 160-foot rink at Norwood Park, 5801 N. Natoma Ave., will be open to the public starting Thursday from 7 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends. The most up-to-date hours can be found at the park district’s website.
This is the second rink the Blackhawks and Park District have worked together on — the first opened in late 2017 in Kennedy Park in Morgan Park.
“The rink has a SportCourt surface, which is for street and roller hockey use and has accessibility throughout all seasons of weather,” said Luis Hernandez, the park district’s deputy director of communications.
Jamal Mayers, member of the 2013 Stanley Cup winning Blackhawks, was on hand to sign autographs and chat with neighbors at a Thursday ribbon cutting at the rink.
John McDonough president and CEO of the Blackhawks, said the Norwood Park rink will help the hockey team expose children to hockey by brining greater access to the game to families on the Northwest Side.
“The Blackhawks organization is dedicated to growing the game across the city by investing in our community,” McDonough said.
The Blackhawks may also hold clinics and camps at the rink, McDonough said.
Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) said Northwest Side residents dreamed “for years” of having a hockey rink to call their own.
“It is so exciting to see this project come to fruition,” he said.
The rink was originally set to be installed at Brooks Park, 7100 N. Harlem Ave. But last fall, some Edison Park neighbors were unhappy the rink appeared to have been approved by the alderman and park district without community feedback.
Another criticism Edison Park neighbors raised was that city agencies were expected to pay $125,000 to install a drainage system for the then-proposed rink at Brooks.
Hernandez said “other park locations were explored for the project,” but positive feedback from Norwood Park neighbors made Norwood Park the perfect location.
“Norwood Park was selected as the site for the rink because of overwhelming community support,” Hernandez said.
Napolitano’s office did not respond to a request for more information on how the Norwood Park site was chosen and how much the new rink cost to install. A spokesperson for the Chicago Blackhawks deferred questions to the Park District.
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