If you are a true Chicago sports fan, you probably get at least a few goose bumps every time you hear the start to “Chelsea Dagger,” and chances are you have a Kane or Toews jersey hanging in your closet. In the past five years, the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team has rejuvenated the spirits of Chicago sports fans and in turn, sparked major interest in the sport.
There’s evidence to prove it. According to statistics from The United States of Hockey, no state’s hockey membership has grown as much in the past five years as Illinois. With popularity and fervor growing, Chicago hockey communities may have a good shot at winning a national contest for the most passionate hockey community in the United States.
Kraft Hockeyville, which has run the program in Canada for the past nine years, decided to bring the contest to the U.S. for the first time in 2015. The title comes with major perks including $150,000 in arena upgrades and a chance to host the NHL® Pre-Season game televised live on NBCSN.
Dave Fischer, senior director of communications of USA Hockey, says the number of hockey arena entries they have already received has far exceeded their expectations. Fischer says there are probably about 2,000 hockey communities in the U.S. and he could see 50 percent of those or more entering the contest.
To win the contest, you must enter a story online about why your community should win in 2,500 words or less. The judges are looking for passion, first and foremost, unique stories and need.
“Winning this grand prize will really bring your community to life,” Fischer says. “The contest is terrific for our sport with helping it to grow and mature.”
Here is all the information you need to know:
Who: Kraft Hockeyville USA, which involves a partnership among the National Hockey League Players’ Association, the National Hockey League (NHL®), NBC Sports Group, and USA Hockey, Kraft’s award-winning, Canadian-born Hockeyville.
What: A competition that will award 10 communities across the United States with arena upgrades. The grand-prize winner will receive $150,000 in arena upgrades as well as the opportunity to host an NHL Pre-Season game, which will be televised live on NBCSN.
Once the 10 community finalists are chosen, there will be three rounds of public voting:
- Round 1 (April 14-16) – Top four communities chosen to move on to the next round; remaining six each receive $20,000 toward arena upgrades.
- Round 2 (April 21-22) – Top two finalists selected; remaining two each receive $40,000 toward arena upgrades.
- Round 3 (April 27-29) – One community will emerge as the first-ever “Kraft Hockeyville USA”; runner-up will receive $75,000 toward arena upgrades.
How: Find your hockey rink online and enter a story of 2,500 words or less on why your hockey community is one of the most passionate communities in the U.S. You can also read more information on the contest rules and even previous entries.
When: Submissions started Jan. 1 and will continue through March 18.