GLENDALE, Ariz. — There is still over a month until the Arizona Coyotes play their home opener at Gila River Arena, but crews have already worked around the clock to prepare the ice for play.
A new sheet of ice is installed prior to each season, and in order to install the ice, the arena floor needs to be cooled to 12 degrees. From there, a Cushman cart equipped with a 350-gallon water tank “floods” or lays down water over the entire surface.
“The guys will do a pattern [on the ice] where they’ll go north to south,” said Sean Langer, operations manager at Gila River Arena. “[It is] similar to what someone might see if they’re at a game and they watch a Zamboni resurface the ice.”
Eventually, hundreds of gallons of white powder paint is mixed in to give the ice its look. From there, more water is applied to the ice surface and then crews will start hand-painting hockey lines on the surface.
“It’s just like a kid with a coloring book,” Langer said. “They create the boundaries and they stay within the boundaries to give you your nice clear, crisp lines.”
Once they’ve hand-painted the red line, the blue lines, face-off circles and goal creases, they will use a poly sprayer filled with water to spray on top of all their lines to create a barrier. Once more water is applied, the team’s logo pattern is applied to the ice. Langer said this whole process can take about 36 hours and about 10,500 gallons of water is used during the process.
“Once we put [the ice] down, it’s down throughout the entire season,” Langer said.
He said any other events that happen in the arena will take place on top of the ice, as it gets protected by a cover, which also acts as an insulator.
Normally, game time temperature in Gila River Arena is between 55 and 64 degrees. Langer said for other events, because the ice is being insulated, he can raise the arena temperature to between 74 and 78 degrees.
Coyotes rookies will have their first on-ice practice Sept. 17, while veterans will participate in their first practice of the season about a week later.