Mar 7

The Ice Under Your Feet

Written by: Holly Ciampaglio, Marketing Intern

Published: March 7, 2019

Do you ever go to a hockey game or an ice rink and wonder how the ice stays cold? Or do you ever wonder how long it takes for a concert stage to be set up or taken down? I talked with our Director of Arena Event Services, Neal Humphreys, to find out how these transitions happen.

Valentine’s Day weekend, the Arena had a packed schedule. Friday night we kicked off the weekend with a Gladiators hockey game against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. When asked why the ice doesn’t melt since games are held inside, Humphreys said “(The) ice is cooled from underneath. That allows the ice to stay frozen and not melt. There are over 8 miles of piping running in the floor under the ice to keep the ice frozen.” Immediately after the game, our Operations crew had to start prepping the Arena for TobyMac’s tour to come in and build his stage the next morning. “The ice is covered with 4x8 sheets of Fiberglass decking. The decking works like a blanket for the ice.” These sheets are put together like pieces of a puzzle, and this sets a foundation so the stage can be built, and the people seated on the floor at the show don’t slip and slide while trying to get to their seats. Setting these fiberglass sheets, taking down the glass from the rink, and filling in the benching areas with chairs takes about 15 people, 2 forklifts, and an hour and a half to complete. After this was done and the TobyMac crew came in with their staging equipment, it was time to build. The crew started around 11 pm and worked for 9 hours. TobyMac ended up having 2 stages for his concert, the mainstage, located on the south end of the Arena, and the B stage, located towards the middle of the Arena, both connected by a runway. This allowed all 7 of TobyMac’s opening acts to perform over the span of 2 hours because while one act was performing on the mainstage, the other act could set up on the B stage, and vice versa. Once TobyMac’s show was finished, it took about 4 hours to take down the stage. Then once Michael Bublé’s 20 buses came in early the next morning, it was time to get to work again. “The switch from TobyMac to Michael Bublé was much faster in that we only had to break our stage down and put it away because the show brought its own stage.” This stage was structured to fit a full live band, along with a runway and a center stage as well. 

If you’re wondering if the ice ever gets melted, the answer is yes, after hockey season is over. “We turn the ice plant from freezing to take out mode which sends warmer water through the pipes. Once the bond between the ice and floor is broken, we can break the ice up and push it in the ice pit to melt.”

Check out this video of the ice being taken out at the end of the season HERE.

Thank you to our Director of Arena Event Services, Neal Humphreys, for all the valuable info!