Less than a month from now, Chicago Blackhawks alumni will lace up their skates alongside adult and youth hockey enthusiasts as Rosemont's popular outdoor ice skating rink is transformed with flexiglass, penalty boxes, benches and bleachers.
The puck will be dropped for the first time Feb. 7 during the inaugural Winter Frost Face-Off, a 24-day schedule of games featuring local youth, high school, college and semipro teams.
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As of Wednesday, 127 games were scheduled to be played over the course of the event, though organizer Kevin Mann said some slots are still open for teams that want to sign up.
The outdoor hockey series begins with a Blackhawks alumni skate at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 7. It is unknown at present which stars will make an appearance.
All of the games will be free to attend, though there may be a fee to sit in the bleachers on Feb. 8 when four college games are scheduled.
Mann, whose Woodridge-based company 200 x 85 LLC helped organize outdoor high school games at Soldier Field last year, said there's a couple of outdoor hockey rinks in the Chicago area, including ones in Lake Forest and Elmhurst.
But the Rosemont hockey rink will be unique, he said, because of its location inside the 200,000-square-foot entertainment district.
"I can't think of a better place to put an outdoor rink than where they've situated this one," Mann said. "The entertainment complex absolutely surrounds the ice area. It's like a Wrigley Field confines with the bars around it. It will draw foot traffic for the park."
Village officials decided to open the rink to hockey next month because that's when attendance traditionally declines for ice skating. MB Financial Park, where the rink is located, is east of the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) near Balmoral Avenue.
The last day for open ice skating is Feb. 2, and then crews will prepare the rink for hockey play, which runs Feb. 7 through March 2.
In October, the Rosemont village board approved a $200,710 contract with Cascadia Sport Systems Inc. to put in 15- to 20-feet high flexiglass and safety netting above the existing dasher boards. The company also will install penalty boxes and benches.
On Wednesday, the board voted to approve an ice rink license agreement with 200 X 85 that stipulates revenues will be split 50-50 between the company and the village.
Mayor Brad Stephens said the village could collect as much as $25,000.
The entry fee for one team is $1,300, according to the 200 X 85 website.
The rink sits on an AstroTurf field that is used for concerts in the summer.
Stephens said he will meet this week with officials from WXRT-FM and CBS Radio to plan for the 2014 summer concert series.
Rink: Entry fee for one team is $1,300