Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks: Pros And Cons To New United Center “L” Train

By Mario Tirabassi
Oct 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view outside of the United Center before the preseason game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view outside of the United Center before the preseason game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jun 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Two fans enter the United Center before game six of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Two fans enter the United Center before game six of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /

PRO: New “L” stop encourages more local attendance to games

MT: How much does it cost to ride the train? $5 round-trip? If you’re telling me that I can buy a Blackhawks ticket for about $75-$85 for the 300 Level and then I don’t have to worry about spending another $20-$25 for parking or having to park four or five blocks away to avoid paying that much for parking for the game, yeah, no question I will take that $5 train ride.

I live in Ravenswood on the North Side of the city. Driving to and from the United Center is a pain in my buttocks, and I don’t look forward to the drive going to a game or other events at the United Center.

If the “L” system had a stop that wasn’t three-quarters of a mile away currently, I would take it there and avoid the parking hassle and costs. I covered the Blackhawks prospect and training camps this summer, and finding parking around Johnny’s IceHouse stunk.

Chicago Blackhawks

There will now be easy access on the train to games AND the Blackhawks’ and Bulls’ training facilities along with the United Center.

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Yes, hockey is expensive and an elitist sport. Yes, most of the time, the more well-off families are able to afford playing the sport and going to see the games more regularly. And sure, more often than not, those families come from the suburbs. Sure.

But if you give everyday fans and families, who may not have a car to travel within the city, or hate parking in highly congested areas like me, easier access to the United Center and surrounding area, all you’re doing is building the brand locally and giving everyone an equal stake in the team.

The Blackhawks’ success, while amazing — and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the sports world — has priced out the “everyman/woman” fan. The new “L” train re-opens that door.

CON: Most Blackhawks game attendees drive in from the suburbs

AG: The Blackhawks’ success the last decade has brought a lot of joy to the city of Chicago. Many of us had no interest in hockey until this team caught our attention with the fast, physical and exciting brand of hockey that was being played on West Madison.

But the fact of the matter is, many of the fans who attend Blackhawks games drive in from the surrounding suburbs and would have no use for the train station being built.

Hockey is a very expensive sport. The equipment, the ice time and the dedication to odd practice hours makes hockey difficult for average families to afford. Chicago also isn’t a city like Minnesota or Michigan where kids can skate on frozen lakes all winter.

Because hockey hasn’t been accessible or popular to inner-city dwellers, it has appealed to those in the suburbs who have the financial resources to afford it.

I’m not saying that all Blackhawks fans are from the suburbs. Blackhawks fans are everywhere.

But with the rising costs of going to games, many of us are subjected to the occasional game here and there that breaks the bank for us. You have to wonder who has the season tickets and is going to all these playoff games. It’s definitely not me.

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