In an interview over the weekend, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says that she is hopeful the NHL will choose the city as one of its two hub cities for the upcoming postseason.
The interview, conducted by Scott Powers of the Athletic, covered a wide range of topics related to the selection of the league’s two hub cities, and Lightfoot made her best pitch about what makes Chicago well-equipped to perform those duties.
“We’re still very well situated to accommodate the league and the players,” she said. “We have plenty of hotel space and we’ve got a great culture life here. I think everything they would want to put on with a best-in-class playoff experience is here in Chicago.”
Chicago is one of 10 NHL cities being considered as a “hub city” for the continuation of the NHL season. Each hub city would play host to 12 different clubs, and could potentially host the Stanley Cup Final if teams aren’t allowed to return to their home cities by the conclusion of the Conference Final round.
That tournament will include the Blackhawks, as they’re set to take on the Edmonton Oilers in the “play-in” round. The winner of that series will move on to the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Chicago made the cut largely because of the extensive availability of hotels and ice sheets for teams to practice and play games on, and coronavirus numbers in the city are beginning to decline dramatically. According to data from NBC 5 Investigates, the number of new cases in Chicago on a daily basis is just one-fifth of what it was when the virus was at its peak in the city.
Statewide, the positivity rate for coronavirus has dropped significantly, sitting at just three percent over the last seven days.
The state has moved into Phase Three of its reopening plan, and could be set to move into Phase Four as soon as June 26. In that phase, restaurants would be able to open indoor seating (with restrictions for social distancing) and gatherings of 50 or fewer people would be allowed.
There has been no decision made as to which of the 10 markets will be chosen as hub cities, but reports have been circulating that Las Vegas is a serious contender to nab at least one of the available spots. The final determination will likely come later this month, with players reporting to training camp in their respective cities in early July.