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Posted On Monday, 12.26.2011 / 2:42 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Renzulli keeping things on track

PHILADELPHIA -- Seated in his temporary office here at Citizens Bank Park on Monday morning, NHL Senior Vice President of Events Don Renzulli said he isn't letting the excitement of what will happen in just seven days affect him.

With just a week remaining until they drop the puck for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, Renzulli is more focused on keeping the train on the tracks.

"Excitement? No," he told NHL.com. "Part of this is just being able to maintain and keep the build going and make sure you get everything done. The excitement comes when you start to bring people into the ballpark and they start to at least see what's going on and what it took to get there."

What they'll start seeing over the next few days will be pretty impressive.

The biggest attraction will be the Spectator Plaza, which will be constructed on Citizens Bank Way, adjacent to the stadium. With crews arriving from holiday break today, work will start tomorrow despite the rain being forecast for the Philadelphia region.

Renzulli said 10 different sponsors will have interactive areas for fans, with the centerpiece being Molson Hockey House.

"It's a scaled-down version of what they did at the (2010 Winter) Olympics, similar to what they did at (NHL) Faceoff in Winnipeg this year," Renzulli said. "Which is really a kind of a sports bar. … It's a big bar, but they integrate other things in the tent."

There also will be a giant video board, NHL Network will be broadcasting from the plaza, and there will be live music, including a performance by The Zoo, winner of MTV's Ultimate Cover Band contest.

"We do a lot of photo ops outside," Renzulli said. "They'll have a lot of branding of the game. It's not much different than what we've had in the past. There's food and beverages, there'll be sampling of the products of our sponsors. Then it's just a tailgate party."

Work also will continue on turning the inside of the baseball stadium into an outdoor hockey wonderland, from hanging signs and installing décor on field walls and gates, and much more.

The work will continue over the next few days, and besides tomorrow's rain, the forecast looks pretty good right through the game on Jan. 2.

"It's not much different than we've been seeing all along," Renzulli said. "It's mid-to-upper 20s and 30s at night and up into the mid-to-upper 40s during the day. Slight chance of rain or snow shower on the 31st, but with temperatures in the mid-to-low 40s I don't really see that becoming snow. If it does, it's not going to stick. Winds are pretty constant between five and 20 (mph) throughout that time, it just depends on when. Right now they're calling on game-day as mostly cloudy, chance for light rain or snow showers late. So I would anticipate we're not going to see much (precipitation) during the game. Highs in the mid-to-upper 40s, lows in the low 30s, it's overcast, won't have the sun to contend with. Might be a little bit warmer for the fans than it has been at other games, (but) you deal with it."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:42 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

More than slush being done

PHILADELPHIA -- Workers spent the day installing a viewing stage around the rink, giving it a more elevated look. The entrance for the Zamboni was finished -- the doors were installed and the ramp for its path onto the ice was built. The platforms for the NBC and CBC broadcast crew were finished in short center field. And just now, the player benches were brought out and sent into place.

And since this is a Flyers-Rangers game, maybe one of the most important aspects of the rink was built -- the penalty boxes.

If all goes to plan, the next addition to the rink will be water, and when everyone returns from the holiday weekend, we might see some ice on the rink.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK




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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:38 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Eye on the Ice an important tool for Craig

PHILADELPHIA -- While the big story of the day is the slush that's being laid down in the gaps under the boards and between the ice panels, another item made its way onto the Winter Classic rink surface.

Two thin cables were laid on opposite ends of the ice, each with a small temperature gauge at the end of it. Called Eye on the Ice, the gauges relay vital, real-time information to NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig.

"(Eye on the Ice) is a monitoring system we have that will tell us the temperature on the panels themselves," Craig told NHL.com. "Once we build an inch of ice we'll put another cable in which will give us the temperature an inch off the panel, and then I'll walk around with an a hand-held infrared gun for temperature. It gives us all three parameters of what it is in the ice surface."

Eye on the Ice is important for Craig, who can monitor the rink surface 24 hours a day, either from on-site or a remote location. With that information, Craig or his crew can adjust the temperature on the panels and create the perfect situation for making ice.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 11:25 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

We're going slushing!

PHILADELPHIA -- When work is being done on the rink being built for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, you can be sure to find NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig hovering somewhere nearby, keeping a close watch on things.

Today, for the first time during working hours, Craig will leave the ballpark.

No, he's not getting an early start to his holiday break. He and a few members of his ice crew will head across the street to Wells Fargo Center to start a process called "slushing."

What Craig and his crew will do is pick up a load of snow from the rink across the street, bring it back here to Citizens Bank Park, and then turn it into slush. They'll take that slush and use it to seal the bottom of the boards to the ice tray, and seal the gaps between the trays where the coolant hoses run. That will keep any water from leaking out of the rink.

That will happen later this afternoon. In the meantime, the workers are building the stage that will surround the rink -- for as long as the weather holds out. As you can see from this dynamic photo taken by my colleague Matt Coe around 11 a.m., things could get stormy around here soon.

We'll have more later, and if all goes well, an in-depth look at the slushing process. You can follow along with all the progress with NHL.com's live webcam.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 5:08 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Not a bad seat in the house

PHILADELPHIA -- This will be the third time the Winter Classic is held at a baseball stadium, but with Citizens Bank Park, there are more than a few differences between this park and Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, starting with the obvious.

"This stadium is 90 years newer than that one (Fenway)," Renzulli said. "Most of it is winterized. There was not much we had to do as far as the stadium is concerned … all the bathrooms are winterized."

Renzulli also said Citizens Bank Park reminds him more of a football stadium than it does the previous baseball parks the NHL has used.

"This place, to me, this is more of a football stadium because it's so vertical," he said. "The sight lines are great. For hockey the higher you go up the better, the better seat it is, and this is a very tall stadium. As I walk around, now that the rink is up, and I look down, there are phenomenal seats here."

Renzulli added that with the temporary seating added in center field, as well as a few other places around the ballpark, capacity will be about 47,000 for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on  Twitter: @NHLAdamK







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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 4:46 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Ice build to start Friday

PHILADELPHIA -- Weather permitting, NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig told reporters this afternoon that he hopes to start spraying water on the hockey rink here at Citizens Bank Park sometime after 3 p.m. tomorrow.

"Right now I know for a fact I won't be starting anything until 3 p.m. tomorrow," Craig said. "I know I can't work on this floor before 3. Anything after 3, and probably until 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, that's when we'll do it."

Craig said he hopes to have the ice truck start pumping the glycol coolant into the aluminum ice trays sometime around 7 or 8 p.m. tonight, which eventually will bring the floor of the rink to the right temperature to start making ice.

"Probably within the next 3-4 hours we're going to start filing up the main header pipes and the truck is ready to fire up and hopefully sometime tonight we'll get the floor back down to temperature we require and do a good test run tonight," Craig said. "And we'll take a look at seeing if we can make ice tomorrow."

Eventually, Craig said he'll make two inches of ice for the Flyers and Rangers to skate on. At 10,000 gallons of water per inch of ice, that takes a lot of work and a lot of time to freeze. That's the reason the flood starts eight days before the first official on-ice event -- the media skate on Dec. 30.

"Can we do it in three days? Yes, we can do it in three days," Craig said. "Do I want to do it in six? I want to do it in six."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 2:48 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Sunny days are here again

PHILADELPHIA -- Workers in T-shirts moving panels and hammering things into place was a common sight here at Citizens Bank Park today.

It's not your usual December Wednesday in the Northeast, but after two straight days of irritating drizzle and dreary skies, seeing some sun was a good thing.

Rather than bundling up, the folks on the work crew needed a bit of suntan lotion this morning.

"This is probably the best weather we could have for a set-up," NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig told NHL.com. "Can't ask for better than this. … Today it's a lot brighter. You get a suntan coming off these panels."

The sun also allowed other work adjacent to the rink to get sped up. Three stages have been built in the outfield, and the broadcast platform is taking shape. The hope is those get locked in, because Craig hopes to run his coolant hoses and pipes down to the ice trays today. Once those go in, it limits where the forklifts can go.

"Once we lay hoses down, we can't have any more forklifts coming back and for through this area, so we want to make sure they're all buttoned up on the staging platforms," Craig said. "Once we load (the hoses) up, everybody has to drive all the way around the field."

Craig said he hopes to have his hoses in place later today and start clearing the air out of them and the ice panels. Once that's done -- a process that could take up to 12 hours -- he'll be able to run the refrigerant that will freeze the panels. After that will come the first water spray and the beginning of actual ice being made -- Mother Nature willing, of course.

"I'm hoping to do tomorrow morning as a test," Craig said. "It looks like we're supposed to get a lot of rain tonight so that may slow us down again. But we just do what we do any other day -- we wake up, and whatever we have (weather-wise), that's what we work with."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 11:20 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

A beautiful Day 4 as sun makes its return

Decor has gone up on the roofs of the broadcast chalets the NBC and CBC studio crews will work out of. (Photo: NHL.com)
PHILADELPHIA -- Work started again bright and early here at Citizens Bank Park, and the men and woman working on transforming the ballpark into an outdoor hockey wonderland received a wonderful gift -- the return of the sun. After two straight days of rain, it was a welcome sight.

While warm and sunny doesn't do much for ice making, it certainly makes all the other things going on around the ballpark get done a lot smoother.

Today's changes included décor going on the roofs of the chalets NBC and CBC's studio crews will work from, the construction of the broadcast platform and entertainment stages and more dressing up of the ballpark with Winter Classic signage.

The boards are being locked into place, and once that gets done, NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig and his crew will be able to start running the coolant into the ice pans. When that happens, things get shifted into Mother Nature's hands, as Craig will wait for temperatures to drop enough that he can start spraying water and beginning the process of making ice.

We'll have more a bit later after our daily briefing with Craig, but you can follow along with NHL.com's live webcam.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 2:12 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

'24/7' films rink build

PHILADELPHIA -- It's not just the players and coaches from the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers who will get their turn in the spotlight of HBO's "24/7 Flyers-Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic."

A crew from the award-winning documentary series was filming for most of the morning the work being done by the hundred or so tasked with laying the last of the ice trays, installing the boards, locking in the coolant pipes, building various stages and platforms and hanging signage around the ballpark.

Look for scenes of the rink construction here at Citizens Bank Park worked into a future episode of "24/7" -- possibly even Episode 2, which debuts tonight on HBO at 10 p.m. ET.

You can follow along all the work being done here at the ballpark at NHL.com's live webcam.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK









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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 11:26 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Rink not only place where work is being done

PHILADELPHIA -- While NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig oversees the rink build, Senior Vice President of Events Don Renzulli is keeping an eye on all the other work going on in the transformation of Citizens Bank Park from baseball stadium to outdoor hockey wonderland.

"As long as the weather stays with us, we'll be in pretty good shape," Renzulli told NHL.com earlier this morning. "A lot has been done the last two days. We're on schedule as far as the things that are going on the field."

Among them are the elevated broadcast platforms where NBC and CBC will broadcast the game, as well as an entertainment stage in left field. The host chalets for NBC and CBC have been built in near the right field wall, with the roofs and windows finally installed.

Renzulli said approval from the city for the 1,500 temporary seats installed in center field should come tomorrow, and other temporary seating installed around the ballpark has been finished. Signage and other décor is starting to be hung in Ashburn Alley, the ballpark's signature outfield concourse.

"Things are going relatively smooth," said Renzulli. "Once the rink is up, the transformation is really the core. They're starting to put some banners up in the alley right now. Once that goes up, it starts to transform the whole place."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic