Renovations underway at BMO Harris Bank Center

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – A Rockford staple will be a little different once renovations are completed over the next two years.

The first of two phases began last week with the replacement of the ice floor, which will be done in time for the Rockford Icehogs season in a few months. Construction crews used wet saws to tear through concrete under the ice, remove insulation and piping, and drain off glycol, a liquid that keeps ice cool.

“Well, it will definitely be a whole new BMO,” said Gretchen Gilmore, Managing Director of the BMO Harris Bank Center. “The customer experience is definitely going to be improved. “

Additional upgrades during the first phase include handrails at level 200, elevator upgrades, and premium seating in the old press room which will include a new bar and dining options for fans.

“We are truly delighted to welcome our guests again and to rediscover the enthusiasm and energy in our venues,” said Gilmore. The Blue Flame Bar and Grill is going to open in the area and have a “wow” factor.

Among the major wave of improvements for the 40-year-old sports and entertainment site include digital signage, a larger Jumtotron and a revamped ticket office.

“When you walk in it looks like a place that was built in the late 70’s to early 80’s because it is. Nothing more changed in this box office. Now to see it’s going to be totally remodeled, more family friendly and more experience driven, I think it’s going to be great, ”said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.

McNamara says the multi-million dollar renovation, along with the hard rock casino and other changes, could make Rockford an entertainment hotspot.

“We are having a great few years here of renewed hockey, renewed events and entertainment in our downtown area that will help small businesses … restaurants but also businesses that help get the renovations done.

Phase two will begin next summer and will focus on major construction improvements, such as a new dashboard. WIFR has contacted the Chicago Blackhawks for a statement on the progress of the renovations, but has not received a response.

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