terry charles | behind the stage | jan. 2018
One of the things in the Resch Center that most people don't understand is the ice-making process for hockey games. The Resch Center is of course home to the Green Bay Gamblers, one of the premier junior hockey teams in the country. Getting a surface for the team to skate on is not a simple or quick process. When I give tours of the facility, people are surprised about what we do to make ice. There is no magic button to press.
We make ice the same way municipal park and rec departments make ice rinks outside in the winter. We get a big water hose and flood the floor! We put the hockey boards up around the floor which makes for a seal. We then turn the compressor on and freeze the floor. There are miles and miles of tubing under the concrete that run north-south and east-west. Those tubes get “ice" cold and the make floor cold enough for the water to essentially freeze on contact.
The floor is flooded to about one-eighth inch thick. It's allowed to freeze and then is painted white with a spray machine. After enough time has passed, the mesh fabric logos are laid in place and the lines are painted on by hand. Again more water is added and is allowed to freeze. This is done a few times until the finished product has been flooded with 10,600 gallons of water making for an ice depth of about 1.5 inches. A Zamboni is used to re-surface throughout the process but can't be used until there is at least a half inch of ice.
In a perfect world, we'd like to have at least three days to make a good sheet of ice. It can certainly be done in less time. We could do it in 48 hours if we have to. It probably takes an average of five people to complete the process over the three days.
We keep the ice in the building during the Gamblers season as much as possible. We can pretty much stage any event on the top of the ice with a protective, hard plastic cover that fits like a puzzle. Basketball, football, volleyball, concerts and other events have all taken place with the ice in place. The only time we prefer to remove the ice is when we have something where dirt will be brought into the building. Monster truck or rodeo events are examples of when dirt may be trucked in.
Removing the ice is another process. Contrary to belief, we don't just allow the ice to melt into a drain. When we need to remove the ice we turn off the freezer compressor and turn on our heated sub-floor. Obviously the heated floor will speed the process of melting the ice. However, it would take too long to simply allow it to melt. After we turn on the heated floor, we wait about four hours for the ice to soften a bit and then start scoring or making deep marks in it with a bobcat. Then we may use a pick-up truck with a blade or a bobcat to chip the ice away in large chunks and push it down a heated pit on the south end of the Resch floor. The heated pit melts the ice rather quickly for easy disposal.
Once the ice is gone, it takes about two hours to scrub and clean the floor. Now you know why we try to keep the ice in place for as many events as we can.
Terry Charles is public relations manager for Green Bay-based PMI Entertainment Group. He's all about media relations, publicity and social media for the Resch Center Complex, Meyer Theatre, Green Bay Gamblers Hockey and other events produced by PMI. When not at work, please don't hit him with your car as he runs and bikes around the Green Bay area. You can follow him on Twitter at @TCCharles.