BMO Harris Bank Center
|"The Big Orange Box"|
|Former names||Rockford MetroCentre (1981-2011)|
|Location||300 Elm Street
Rockford, IL 61101
|Owner||Rockford Area Venues & Entertainment Authority|
Ice hockey: 5,895
|Broke ground||February 7, 1979|
|Opened||January 31, 1981|
|Construction cost||$15.7 million
($40.7 million in 2014 dollars)
$20 million (renovation)
($21.9 million in 2014 dollars)
|Architect||Larson & Darby
DLR Group (renovation)
The BMO Harris Bank Center (formerly known as Rockford MetroCentre) is a 10,000-seat multi-purpose arena in downtown Rockford, Illinois. It is currently home to the AHL's Rockford IceHogs hockey team. The arena formerly served as the home of several defunct minor league sports teams, including the Rockford Lightning basketball team, the Rock River Raptors indoor football team, and the Rockford Rampage indoor soccer team.
The BMO Harris Bank Center also secured a spot in history when it hosted the first Arena Football League test game in 1986 between the Chicago Politicians and the Rockford Metros. WWE holds one event yearly in the BMO Harris Bank Center. Due to its outdoor appearance it is often referred to as the "Big Orange Box", although IceHogs officials refer to the arena as "the Barnyard".
Certainly the most significant event in BMO Harris Bank Center history occurred in the inaugural year, when The Rolling Stones made an appearance on their 1981 North American Tour on October 1, 1981. The concert was added to the tour in response to a radio station petition drive. The actual petitions were cut up and used to hold a lottery for the right to buy tickets. Each person drawn could purchase two of the $15.00 tickets.
The facility hosted the 1984 and 1986 Mid-American Conference men's basketball tournaments as well as numerous IHSA basketball sectional and super-sectional tournaments. In addition to athletic events, it hosts concerts, conventions, and local high school graduations.
The BMO Harris Bank Center hosts major concerts, sport events, and other large scale events. The complex houses press boxes, a lounge, and suites to watch sport events in style, and a 10,000 seat multi-purpose arena.
On August 11, 2011 it was announced that BMO Harris Bank had reached a long term agreement with the Rockford IceHogs for the naming rights of the venue. It was effectively renamed the BMO Harris Bank Center.
In 2006, The city of Rockford, along with Winnebago County, announced plans to issue 23 million dollars in bonds to fund a massive renovation of the Arena. Key to the plan was an agreement with the Chicago Blackhawks to put an American Hockey League (AHL) team in Rockford for the next 10 years. This team acts as the Blackhawks' farm team. The MetroCentre authority purchased an AHL franchise, and bought the rights to name it the "IceHogs."
During the summer of 2013, the seating structure in the building’s lower level was replaced, making way for a new, updated seating system. New seats were added and the seating capacity for hockey increased to 5,895, up from 5,767. Along with new seats, the visitors’ locker room was also expanded. New lights were added that replaced the old ones and the concourse was renovated as well.
WWE came to the BMO Harris Bank Center on February 21, 2012 for the taping of Superstars and NXT, and then broadcast Super Smackdown Live on SyFy.
WWE returned to the BMO Harris Bank Center on August 6, 2013 for the tapings of Smackdown and Main Event.
- Kolkey, Jeff (August 10, 2011). "RAVE Authority to Sell Naming Rights to MetroCentre". Rockford Register Star. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
- Wehausen, Sam (September 10, 2013). "Renovation Update". Rockford IceHogs. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- "Ground-Breaking Project". Lakeland Ledger. February 8, 1979. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
- Cultural/Library - Larson & Darby Group
- Kolkey, Jeff (November 30, 2010). "MetroCentre Officials Mishandled Part of Renovation, Audit Finds". Retrieved September 23, 2011.
- Kolkey, Jeff (July 27, 2010). "Minorities Rarely Take the Stage in Downtown Rockford". Rockford Register Star. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
- "BMO Harris Bank teams with IceHogs". The AHL. August 11, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
- "BMO Harris Bank Center Venue Information". Archived from the original on March 23, 2009. Retrieved November 17, 2008.