"This week, I wanted to indulge myself and find the answer to a question I have wondered about for a long time. As a lifelong hockey player and with NHL Play-Off Fever sweeping the nation, I got to thinking about those cool retro outdoor games that have been featured the past few years and it made me wonder: 'How do they turn a baseball stadium into a hockey stadium for those retro outdoor games?'"
Answer from Ross Sanders
Well, to start, it takes lots of manpower, lots of planning and about 15 days of construction! First, a military grade platform is placed over much of field to level out the surface and protect the grass so there can be a baseball season in the spring. Next, nearly 300 modular aluminum panels are constructed and placed over hundreds of wooden planks that are 2’ in length. In total, the rink will float about 18” off of the field. Then, thousands of feet of hose are connected for the cooling system, all of which runs back to a specialized cooling truck.
Interestingly, the pipes don’t actually freeze the ice but rather remove the heat from the surface and send it back to the cooling truck. Removing the heat and allowing the sub-freezing winter temperatures to do their job means the ice freezes all by its self.
Once the main infrastructure has been built, side-boards and glass are installed. We wouldn’t want the 20,000 gallons of water needed to make the ice to spill everywhere. Naturally, this is a TV world, so flashy color graphics are added to the boards and ice to jazz up the visual effect. Similarly, a smaller “pond hockey” rink is added near the main attraction to distract from the seemingly empty field and hide the massive cooling pipes.
Meanwhile, the infield is filled with temporary seating, letting people get closer to the action. As part of the assembly, the locker areas are connected to the rink by a gangway of ice for the players (and the crowd favorite - the Zamboni!). Watch a baseball field become a hockey rink in 30 seconds!