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.


Happy news for Nook NYT readers

Just saw this on Facebook from Nook:

“We’re pleased to announce that soon all subscribers to The New York Times through NOOK Newsstand will also be able to access NYTimes.com, including timely news updates, opinion, blogs, video, interactive graphics and more, at no additional cost. We’ll let you know in the coming weeks how to enjoy free access to NYTimes.com.”

I like.

About that game tonight

By the time we reach the NCAA men’s basketball championship game, I don’t always care who wins. Most of the time I just want to see a good game.

Tonight, however, is different. Tonight, I’m all about Butler. I’m all about Hinkle Fieldhouse, the Hickory Huskers and the underdog.

But it is more than that.

When Butler plays Connecticut it is the little guy against a power conference school. It is also good versus evil.

Not to put any pressure on the unflappable Brad Stevens, but a Butler victory will only restore my faith in college sports.

The college football bowl season saw Ohio State and Auburn hog the headlines for skirting rules and it hasn’t stopped since then.

In late February, UConn and Huskies coach Jim Calhoun were hit with sanctions for major NCAA rules violations. On the eve of the Final Four, more info came out.

Auburn and Cam Newton won a football title that may or may not be tainted. I don’t want this to be the year in which only cheaters win.

If you don’t believe me, read Steve Politi from the Newark Star-Ledger or Pat Forde from espn.com

And one more thing: Go Bulldogs.

Apparently Rooting is the new name of the game

I have watched a good amount of baseball the past few days thanks to my new-found ability to stream MLB.tv on my Apple TV.

The most interesting thing from a non-baseball perspective is the emergence of Root Sports.

And when I say Root, I’m talking about root, root, root for the home team. Not the things underneath trees.

Thanks to Google, I learned that several regional Fox Sports channels have been rebranded as “Root Sports.” That’s the case in Pittsburgh, Seattle, Salt Lake City and in Denver.

I don’t really know what to think of it. In some ways I appreciate the honesty. Broadcast partners of professional teams aren’t exactly the most critical people on the planet. There is frequently talk of looking for positives. Criticism is tempered if there at all. There is sometimes too much griping about calls from officials. And there is very little chance that someone is going to accuse broadcasters of being too negative.

I get that this is a business and the last thing a cable channel wants is for a franchise to be upset with the tone of broadcasts as the two sides need to work closely together. But “Root Sports”?

I know I’m a former journalist and that might mean that I’d like to see a bit more criticism/realism on broadcasts than hardcore fans. But this whole thing confuses me. Tell me what happens. Tell me when a guy is great. Be honest with me when things are going less than great. Give me realistic perspective. I hope that’s not too much to ask.

The follow up question for others out there is whether this whole Root Sport thing is going to spread. I don’t know how the ownership of all of the regional Fox Sports channels work. Are we destined to have Fox Sports North turn into Root Sports?

A little blog update (and a new blog)

To my loyal reader (OK, loyal three or four readers), I have a little update.

I have decided to start a new golf-only blog. You can find it at onlygolfmatters.com.

The site will give me a chance to write more about golf than some of you probably want to read. Do you really want to read about what golf shoes I’m excited about these days?

There will still be some golf stuff that I post in both spots. I also might put together a summary post each week with the best golf posts or something.

What will you see here? More of the same nonsense as before. I will share stories and videos. I anticipate a good six months of complaining about the Twins pitching staff. You know, the usual stuff.

The MLB stadium list


If you’ve read this blog for more than three seconds, you probably have realized a couple of things: I like to share stories/videos/cool things and I like lists.

On Thursday, I watched a little bit of the Reds and Brewers. I saw the end of the Padres and St. Louis. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with the Twins during a pretty difficult road trip to star the season.

Just as how I like to see cool golf courses, I like seeing other MLB stadiums. I’ve never gone on a guys week-long baseball trip, but I try to see baseball during my travels. That was especially the case when I used to travel a lot more. I went to the Braves season opener on the day of the national championship game when the Final Four was in Atlanta. My only trip to Shea Stadium came when I was in New York for the NBA Draft and it goes on from there.

So here’s my list of MLB stadiums that are currently in use:

American League:

Camden Yards, Baltimore

Rogers Centre, Toronto

US Cellular Field, Chicago

Progressive Field, Cleveland

Target Field, Minnesota

Comerica Park, Detroit

Kaufmann Stadium, Kansas City

Angels Stadium, Anaheim

Oakland Coliseum, Oakland

Rangers Ballpark of Arlington, Texas

National League:

Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia

Turner Field, Atlanta

Busch Stadium, St. Louis

Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati

Miller Park, Milwaukee

PNC Park, Pittsburgh

Wrigley Field, Chicago

AT&T Park, San Francisco

Chase Field, Arizona

Coors Field, Colorado

Total: 20 of 30

Past stadiums:

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta

Busch Stadium, St. Louis

County Stadium, Milwaukee

Metrodome, Minnesota

Metropolitan Stadium, Minnesota

Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Park, Cincinnati

Shea Stadium, New York

Totals: 7


I have taken the tour of Fenway Park. I covered basketball at Tropicana Field. But neither of those count.

What I want to see:

I have seen most of the parks that I really want to see. I should say that I want to see a game at Fenway, but I just don’t get that excited about the Red Sox. I feel the same way about the Yankees and the new Yankee Stadium.

The two that I’m probably most interested in seeing are Safeco Field in Seattle — which everyone says is the best retractable roof stadium — and Dodger Stadium. Safeco is supposed to be cool and is often mentioned by friends as their favorite. Dodger Stadium just seems so retro cool that it makes the list.

What’s on the agenda for this year:

Obviously I’ll be at Target Field a bunch between the upstairs 20-game package and working a little bit in the press box.

There are plans for a summer trip that very well may include stops at Miller Park and Comerica Park. Neither would be new, but that isn’t the end of the world. I really enjoyed Comerica last time and I think it is underrated. That rating might have been influenced by the fact I was there on a lovely Sunday afternoon.

So how many stadiums have you been to? Any big plans for summer baseball road trips?