Ahead of the sold-out NHL preseason game on Sunday, Oct. 2 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild, Fiserv Forum partnered with the Blackhawks to install an NHL rink on the arena floor.
The Home Away From Home Series game will be the first NHL game hosted at Fiserv Forum. The game will also show off Fiserv Forum's ice capabilities, because while the Bucks may have made it happen, this arena wasn't just meant for basketball when it was built.
Senior Vice President and General Manager of Fiserv Forum Dennis Williams held a media conference on Monday to offer a sneak peek at the rink and talk about Fiserv Forum’s partnership with the Chicago Blackhawks for the ice installation.
“The first game ever, NHL wise at Fiserv Forum, as well as the first NHL game in Milwaukee since 1993,” he said. “It’s great that we have partners in the Blackhawks that were willing to work with us to be able to host their game up here.”
According to Williams, hosting the Blackhawks/Wild game is not only an opportunity for the city of Milwaukee, but for Fiserv Forum since the building was built with “ice capabilities” – and they look forward to more opportunities in the future.
Senior Ice Technician of the Chicago Blackhawks Nick Cotsilis gave insight into the process of building the rink at Fiserv Forum.
“It’s definitely newer, it’s a tad smaller than the United Center and every building has their unique characteristics,” he said. “At the United Center, we’re really really tall and big, so we deal with the same issues here with the humidity, the air flow and what the outside temperature is, and so you just kind of make that magic formula.”
Cotsilis also gave a step-by-step process of how they’re building the rink to NHL standards to insure a quality rink for the game.
“We’ve cooled the concrete down to about 14 degrees and then we started laying some thin layers of clear water. Then after that we put a base of white on, we sealed the white after that and now we are out here marking the lines,” he explained. “After we mark the lines, we will paint them, and then after the lines are painted, we’ll drop in all the beautiful logos. After that we will build it up to about an inch, very thin layers. Spray for 48 hours.”
Although building the rink is a long process, according to Cotsilis, dashers and hockey boards were put up within the last week. Cotsilis and his team started at 7 a.m. on Monday to build the rink and will continue another two days before it gets covered.
At this point, you may be wondering why the NHL rink is getting built now when there’s a Bucks game on October 1. How is that going to work?
"We’ll cover it up, and get ready for that first Bucks game on October 1," Williams stated.
He went into additional detail about the process of covering up the rink and how they’re going to host a Bucks game before a Blackhawks game the next day.
“At that point, when the game concludes that night, we will strip off the flooring, the cords, the hoops, all the seating that will sit on top of the rink itself,” he said. “And then we will put the dash boards back in and all the glass, the netting, and our goal is to be done and ready to go first thing sunday morning, October 2.”