What does it look like when the Xcel ice is redone?

As some of you may know, I covered some college hockey this past weekend. Because of a family situation, AnnArbor.com (the former Ann Arbor News) needed a last minute emergency starter to cover the Frozen Four.

I took the gig late Wednesday afternoon and covered Michigan both on Thursday night and Saturday night. It was a good gig and I had a good time time.

But when I got back up to the press box on Saturday, I was captivated by what was going on down on the ice. Because of the schedule at Xcel Energy Center, the crew there had a lot of work to accomplish in not a lot of time. The Frozen Four ended Saturday night and the Wild played an early Sunday evening game.

I don’t know a ton about changing over buildings, but this one seemed like it would be more difficult than most. For the record, my descriptions below are kind of a guess of what’s going on based on my observations. Some of it could be right, some of it might be wrong.

But this wasn’t just changing the signage on the boards — which isn’t all that tough because those ads are basically just big stickers that come off pretty easily. This change over also required changing the ice.

For the Frozen Four, a logo for the event was on center ice and the spots in the neutral zone where there are usually ads had logos either for the NCAA or the University of Minnesota, the host institution.

When I got up from the locker room, there were three Zambonis on the ice at the same time. It kind of looked like the Zambonis were strictly scraping the ice rather than scraping and putting down water. I’m not an expert, however. I just thought it looked cool

What became pretty clear pretty quickly was that the Xcel crew put down additional ice on top of the ice usually used by the Wild. So it wasn’t like a new sheet of ice had to be put down. The crew just had to get rid of what was on top of the Wild logo.

In this photo, you can see that the word “Center” had vanished from center ice and that the two tournament logos at the top of the photo were gone.

I didn’t really know how these logos are put into the ice, but in this case, there were actual printed logos that were put into the ice. They looked to be printed on a fairly durable material. In the photo below, you can see the guy in the white pulling up on the logo to get it out of the ice. From high above the ice, it looked like the tub on the cart was filled with hot water. That water was sprayed on the ice to melt it and allow workers to pull up the logo.

Below, you can see that they have gotten about half of the primary logo up

Here is what center ice looked like a little later.

Below is the final picture I took (sorry for the not so great iPhone photos) on the night. You can tell that in the span of 90 minutes to two hours, a lot of work got done. It isn’t complete, but it certainly going in the right direction.

While the logo removal was going on, there was a crew working on board signage — what  you see below is different than what was up during the weekend — and another group with what looked like an edger working on the ice. It looked like they were trying to make sure that there wasn’t a lip around the rink and that the ice was flat.


4 thoughts on “What does it look like when the Xcel ice is redone?

  1. In 1999, I was at the Calgary Saddledome for Game 5 of the WHL final between the (victorious) Calgary Hitmen and Kamloops Blazers.

    The next night, the Saddledome was host site for an Ozzy Osbourne concert.

    Changeover started the second the team left the ice … floor boards go down, side boards come off, some rows removed, chairs to go on floor …

    By the time we returned to the pressbox from the rink’s bowels, where we conducted our post-game interviews, it didn’t even look like the same building.

    It’s an amazing process and a great study in teamwork … far better than has been exhibited by some hockey teams which will remain nameless.

  2. Cool post Jeff. I know a little bit about this process so I will see if I can fill in the gaps. The thickness of the ice was likely the same for the Frozen Four as they use for the Wild. Ice thickness is a real key to quality. Too thick and it messes with the temp control, leaving the ice too soft. Too thin and there is a risk of big diggers reaching the concrete. Total thickness is probably about 1 inch or so. Knowing they are going to have some different logos during the course of the season they usually paint/apply the main logos fairly deep in the ice. For an event like the Frozen Four or the MSHSL the will shave the ice down a bit and paint white over the top of the main logos. Then they put down a little more ice, the logos for the special event, followed by more ice. This way they are able to make a quick change over, as you saw, without having to completely redo the ice. Something undesirable for both time and quality reasons.

    • Thanks Chris for the insight. And for the encouragement. It was quite the process. They did paint white over the main logos. I could see that as they were doing the work and left that out.

      It was very clear that the main Wild logo and the lines were far down in the ice. They also painted at least new blue lines and a new center line for the event. Not sure about the goal line and the crease.

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