NHL: Freeze warning in effect for Levi’s Stadium

Don Renzulli, Executive Vice President of Events for the National Hockey League, speaks to the media as the field at Levi's Stadium is transformed into a hockey rink for the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series Feb. 13.

SANTA CLARA—Temperatures were close to 80 degrees Friday, but that didn’t stop crews at Levi’s Stadium from preparing to lay down some ice.
The rink for the NHL’s Stadium Series between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings was nearing completion with the final boards being put in place. The aluminum tins, which will hold the ice, were laid down and Dan Craig, Senior Director of Facilities Operations for the league, said his crews would begin making the ice tomorrow night.
“That’s where we started,” Craig said of playing hockey outside. “1917 National Hockey League—that’s where we started.”
Maintaining the ice against its natural enemy—the California sunshine—may seem impossible, but the league has it covered. Craig said the rink is fitted with state-of-the-art refrigeration panels, which are insulated below to maintain the cold temperatures. A large reflective blanket will also cover the ice, keeping the sun off of it until it’s time to drop the puck.
Whether it’s California, Chicago or New England, Craig said these outdoor games are an integral part of growing the sports and showing its fans the history behind it.
“It’s doesn’t really matter where we’re going, it’s just getting us back out in the marketplace at grassroots,” he said. “When you see the young guys lace ‘em up and step on there for the first time, you look in their eyes and see basically a 24 or 28-year-old smiling like it’s Christmas morning. That’s when you know you’re doing the right thing.”
The outside Stadium Series game will already be unique and Don Renzulli, the NHL’s Executive Vice President of Events, said the league is aiming to cater it even more to the Golden State’s fanbase.
Surrounding the ice will be colorful rock formations, grass and water fixtures to give warmth to the frozen face-off.
“I think you’ll see something with a lot of color on the field and something that’s really unique to this marketplace,” Renzulli said. “Out here, we have different kinds of elements. We’re trying to bring in the Northern California deal, similar to what we did last year in L.A.”
And while Levi’s Stadium lends itself to great vantage points from almost every seat, the NHL has taken over the Levi’s Stadium app to give hockey fans a more interactive experience on gameday. Hockey fans that download the app can get instant replays on their phones and get food, merchandise and drinks delivered straight to their seats.
Rain or shine, the puck drops at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at Levi’s Stadium in front of nearly 70,000 fans for the league’s 13th outdoor contest. And the NHL is hoping it has a big impact on players and fans alike.
“Some of the remarks last year, they (the players) thought they were rockstars walking out from centerfield,” Renzulli said. “I think when they walk out here, (it’ll be) the same thing. I think from a little kid’s standpoint, they’re coming to see this and instead of 18-20,000 they’re seeing 68,000 (people)—that’s a big deal. If you can get them young, you’re going to have a fan for life.”