PHILADELPHIA -- With the arrival of the Winter Classic ice truck Monday morning, the official transformation of Citizens Bank Park from baseball stadium to outdoor hockey oasis began.
The custom-built, 53-foot truck pulled behind the right-field wall on Hartranft Street, with NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig eagerly awaiting its arrival.
"It's a good time," Craig said. "Everybody is anxious. The crews are anxious to get going, I'm anxious to get going."
The truck contains almost everything needed to stage the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Craig's crew, which numbered about 100 on Monday, began the task of offloading and starting to build the actual rink the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will skate on when the puck drops on Jan. 2, 2012.
NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig inspects the Winter Classic ice truck.
(Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI)
(Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI)
The running of the hoses is one of the unique elements that come with erecting a hockey rink in a baseball stadium.
Craig said the average length of the hoses for past Winter Classics has been 250 feet, but to make things work at Citizens Bank Park, the hoses will lead from the truck, through a four-foot by four-foot square window, through an indoor pitching area for fans, out another 4-by-4 window and over a specially built scaffolding that will carry it over the outfield concourse and down to the field.
"We're at an extra 200-foot push," Craig said. "We also have an elevation change of about 30 feet, compared to in Pittsburgh we were at only 12-18, so we're almost double."
Craig said that kind of length is just another set of calculations that need to be added to his Winter Classic equation.
2012 WINTER CLASSIC
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Another element is dealing with the wind that swirls on the field, which is built below street level, and in an area notorious for quick-shifting wind patterns. It's the same wind that notoriously blew parts of the roof off the Spectrum in 1968.
"The first one we did in Buffalo, the wind swirled all through that stadium, but if you went up in the parking lot, nothing was happening," Craig said. "Now, on my side, I have to figure out how I work the day, and it takes me four or five days to try to figure out the building. Once we start making ice, what the total reaction time is going to be throughout the day when the sun comes across, how it's going to affect it, when the sun goes down how much (the temperature) is going to drop, what the wind is going to do. It affects it quite a bit.
"It develops as you go. Mother Nature really has a big part of what happens here. This morning it's nice and calm, but I've been down here where it's been pretty breezy here. On the ice-making side, that affects us quite a bit."
Taking over the park a full 13 days before the first on-ice event -- the Winter Classic Alumni Game on New Year's Eve -- gives Craig and his crew a good cushion to get the rink built with whatever Mother Nature might throw at him and his crew.
"Taking it over now gives our guys a chance to go home, spend a couple days at home for Christmas and then come back and hit the ground running," he said.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK