GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The Green Bay Gamblers begin their 30th season on Saturday, and preparations for the ice surface at the Resch Center have been completed. But how exactly are these rinks built, and how long do these take? That’s what I sought to find out.
A typical ice surface is 200 feet in length and 85 feet in width, with miles of coils below the cement surface that act as a refrigeration system to keep the gallons of water and paint frozen above it. Once the floor is cooled and cleaned, a systematic process begins to get the ice surface ready for puck drop.
Terry Charles with the Green Bay Gamblers details this process as to how these rinks are built:
“People think there’s an elaborate way to make ice: there isn’t. Once the floor is cold, we get big hoses out and flood the floor for maybe an inch or so, and then we paint the floor white. Once that dries, we flood again, and then we install the logos, the blue lines, the red lines, and stuff like that and flood again. So there’s multiple flooding’s we do about 4 times to get different depths”
Now, hockey is not the only event that the Resch Center holds, as it serves as home to the University of Wisconsin Green Bay Men’s Basketball, various concerts, wrestling matches, and other events. So what happens when these events need to use the arena?
“We try and keep the ice in the building as much as possible because it’s a big process to put it in and take it out. For basketball, we simply have a covering: it’s a sheet, and we put the basketball court right over the top of those sheets, basically. So, we play on the ice, and the coils underneath stay on as long as there is ice under the building, so it will stay cold whether it’s covered or not.”, says Charles.
This process is never-ending, says Charles, as this process of changing over from event to event occurs multiple times a week, and the schedule for this season sees a basketball to hockey change over on the same day. These rinks can be installed in as little as three days from cleaning to final flooding, and can take as long as five days if needed. Once the ice is in, if a changeover is needed, Charles says a good crew can have it ready in about eight hours.
Keeping the ice in great condition while events like basketball and concerts are underway is the job of ice technicians like Michael Barta, who say this system is well thought out.
“We are all digital. We [have] a computer-based system that we can operate all of it from our office under the bleachers there, and based on how many people we have in the building, what expected crowds are, [and] outside temperature, we can control down to a degree, a half a degree if we need to make sure we keep everything good. We can also control the floor temperature based on certain events or how many people are going to be on the ice or what we are doing on it at that time, so we’ll make adjustments when we cover the ice, well drop the temperature down to keep it cold and keep it frozen so the ice stays healthy.”
The Gamblers play their first home game this Saturday, October 7th, when the Dubuque Fighting Saints come to town. Puck drop is at 6:05 p.m.