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NHL Transforming Investors Group Field for Heritage Classic

October 11, 2016 3:57 PM | Sports

NHL Ice Truck

A 53-foot trailer sits behind Investors Group Field housing the world’s largest mobile refrigeration unit. (CHRISD.CA)

WINNIPEG — Chances are you won’t recognize Investors Group Field when the puck drops on the NHL Heritage Classic on October 23.

That’s because a team of 200 workers is in the process of building a massive outdoor NHL-calibre rink using 3,000 gallons of glycol coolant.

Crews are currently laying a deck-like foundation on the field and will be finished running pipes from the 53-foot mobile refrigeration unit behind the stadium in a few days. By Friday, the field should start to look like a hockey rink.

“Everything so far is right on track and right where we should be,” said Mike Craig, the NHL’s senior manager of facilities operations.

Manitoba’s crisp fall weather is also right where it should be, but in the event temperatures rise, Craig says the refrigeration unit’s job to remove heat from the surface and stabilize the temperature will do its part. The glycol will be chilled to an ideal -5.5ºC as it flows through custom-made aluminum trays configured on the field.

“The weather we have right now… there’s nothing that really stands out as anything we haven’t seen before or that poses any significant challenges.”

Crews will flood the rink by hand using a spray wand and a fine mist process hundreds of times over. The ice will be built up to two inches in height — compared to 1-1.25 inches in an NHL arena. For every inch of ice, 10,000 gallons of water is required. Once hardened, rink boards will go up and lines will be painted on the surface.

Crews will monitor the ice around the clock with the help of an embedded rink system called Eye on the Ice, which provides updates on temperatures at different areas of the ice. Any fluctuation in temperature sends an alert to either pump more glycol or engage the in-line hearing system if temperatures drop significantly.

By the numbers

  • 22 — Wheels on the specially built mobile refrigeration truck
  • 53 — Length, in feet, of the world’s largest mobile rink refrigeration unit, specially built for outdoor games (76 feet including the trailer)
  • 102 — Width, in inches, of the refrigeration trailer
  • 200 — Workers that will spend one week building everything needed for an NHL outdoor game
  • 300 — Ton capacity of refrigeration trailer that will keep the ice cool
  • 350 — Gallons of water soluble paint used to make ice white
  • 3,000 — Gallons of glycol coolant used to freeze the rink
  • 20,000 — Gallons of water needed to create a two-inch ice surface
  • 25,000 — Approximate feet of electrical cable used to power the rink, stages, audio systems, etc.
  • 32,000 — Square feet of decking for construction of the rink
  • 52,000 — Feet of plywood for the construction of the rink
  • 96,500 — Weight, in pounds, of the refrigeration unit that will be travelling to the NHL’s outdoor games
  • 1,021,055 — Total attendance of the NHL’s 18 regular-season outdoor games, an average of 56,725 per game

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