Where would you find Blackhawks logos on the walls and ground, Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford T-shirts hanging in the locker room and Chelsea Dagger blasting from the speakers every time a goal is scored?
Answer: In the basement of a three-story home tucked away in a northwest suburban subdivision.
At the Bowes Creek Country Club in Elgin, developers have turned the basement of a model home into a mini-version of the United Center, sans the ice. The basement hockey rink also comes with full boards, penalty boxes and a red siren score light, said Justin Benzel, senior project manager for national home builder Toll Brothers.
The idea sprouted a month ago, Benzel said, when the company’s senior management, all hockey fans, toured the home and suggested converting the furnished basement into a hockey rink. Benzel said the senior management team knew Chicagoans love Blackhawks and wanted the home to stand out from its competitors.
“It’s just an idea they kind of threw out there and we definitely ran with it,” Benzel said.
With three weeks to go before the model home’s grand opening, Benzel, his assistant, an electrician and carpenter got together and designed the space.
The rink is 18-feet by 25-feet and has a concrete floor covered in white epoxy paint that gives it a shiny look. A Hawks logo is on the faux ice, which features crease lines for the goalies.
The penalty boxes double as home and away benches, near flat-screen TVs playing a documentary of last year’s championship game. Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa T-shirts hang in the locker room area.
About 200 people attended the grand opening last week, some of whom later sent friends to check out the basement rink, Benzel said. The floor shook every time someone pressed the button to turn on the flashers, sound the horn as if a goal had been scored and play Chelsea Dagger, he said.
“It’s over the top but people left here saying it was one of the coolest things they had ever seen,” he said.
Children also played on the rink that night, and on Thursday morning, Benzel said he received a call from a parent asking if kids could stop by later and play pick-up hockey.
The home is for sale, but the rink can be taken down if needed.
Meanwhile, the rink will likely stay no matter how the Blackhawks fare against the LA Kings in this Western Conference series. On Wednesday, the Blackhawks beat the Kings 5-4 in double overtime, keeping the Blackhawks quest for the Stanley Cup alive. The teams play again on Friday in Game 6.
“Hopefully they keep turning around the series,” Benzel said. “It’s a cool place so hopefully they keep on winning.”
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