When the Rockford Icehogs, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, announced their “Los Icehogs” promotion, there were some complaints that the event, meant to appeal to Latinos, was offensive.
— Rockford IceHogs (@goicehogs) November 8, 2012
Sports and humor site Deadspin called the tweet above racist and NBC Latino contributor Julio Ricardo Varela said the promotion failed because sombreros, maracas and Dora the explorer do not qualify as positive Latino outreach.
The Icehogs released final details on what the night will entail and it looks like a much more robust and well-intentioned offering for the Latino community, which makes up 15 percent of Rockford’s population.
Communications director Mike Peck says there will be a 25-piece Latino band playing in the arena during the pregame before the teams come out and the video board will show slides of past Latino professional hockey players. Latino veterans have been added to the pregame festivities as well.
“There will be a ceremonial puck drop that will involve 5 Latino veterans,” Peck said. “One is a World War 2 veteran, two are Vietnam veterans and two are active in the military now.”
He also said the regular public address announcer will be augmented by a Spanish-language announcer who will announce the goals and the penalties in Spanish.
Peck stressed that the entire event was conceived in conjunction with Rockford’s Coalition of Latino Leaders, who helped design the controversial jersey and had input on every aspect of the event.
“It’s been a wonderful experience having this collaboration between the IceHogs and the Latino community,” said Rudy Valdez, a member of the coalition. “We look forward to future partnerships with the IceHogs.”
Peck also said Dora the Explorer has been removed from the event and promotional material after Nickelodeon complained that she was on the same poster as Corona, an alcohol brand.
The first 2,500 fans will still receive maracas courtesy of Corona, and Peck insinuated there was nothing that could be done there because they are already ordered and on the way.
Peck understands that the jerseys were at the forefront of a lot of the complaints, noting that they are bright and very different from anything they’ve done before, but he says four of the jerseys will be auctioned and the proceeds will be given to La Voz Latina, a local charity dedicated to serving Rockford’s Hispanic community through education workshops and youth programming.
In the end, Peck says he and the team learned some lessons but also stresses that the idea for a night geared towards the Latino community came from a good place.
“What we wanted to accomplish was to reach out to the growing Latino community in Rockford,” he says.