It just may be the most anticipated weekend of the season for many Kings fans. Frozen Fury, this year presented by Rocco’s Old School Products, means the beginning of the long-awaited hockey season, and the end of a summer planning for the collision of a passionate enthusiasm for LA Kings hockey, and a sleep-deprived getaway to Sin City.
Kings fans aren’t the only ones who eagerly look forward to Frozen Fury weekend in Las Vegas – the dedicated staff at the MGM Grand does as well, as ice hockey only comes to the MGM Grand Garden Arena once a year.
Unlike STAPLES Center, which switches between basketball and hockey on a sometimes twice-daily basis between the months of September and (hopefully) June, the MGM Grand Garden Arena is rarely enshrined with a sheet of ice.
“We host hockey only once a year so we need to dig out, dust off and make sure all of our hockey assets are in good working condition,” admits Jay Cline, Director of Arena Operations for the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
‘Hockey assets’ include anything and everything from dasherboards and glass, to the chiller and water filtration systems. Ordering the paint and freeze-in graphics for the ice surface is also something that is unique to Frozen Fury.
One of the most unique aspects of the MGM Grand Garden Arena is that the event floor is typically carpeted, a detail used to enhance the experience for concert guests.
“For Frozen Fury, we remove nearly 50,000 square feet of carpet, scrub the floor and then prepare for the ice installation,” explains Cline.
Operationally, this is a far cry from the STAPLES Center Conversion Crew’s task of converting the arena floor, as the basketball floors used by the Lakers and Clippers are placed over the Kings ice surface for convenience.
The fact that this year’s Frozen Fury, presented by Rocco’s Old School Products, features two hockey games for the first time, will present new challenges for Cline and his staff.
Cline’s primary responsibility is to manage all of the day-to-day operations at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, but he also oversees the arrivals and departures of the teams, as well as works with the MGM’s PR department to manage the television and radio broadcasts for both teams.
Whereas in the past, there have only been two teams to deal with regarding travel and PR, this year, Cline must tend to the accommodations of the Kings and both opponents, the Colorado Avalanche, and the New York Rangers.
“This year’s event will be a little more challenging as we not only will we be hosting two games back to back, but they will both be televised with different broadcasters for each night,” says Cline, who is tasked with ensuring that the proper camera positions are set up and broadcast trucks are parked and powered. “That’s probably our biggest challenge right now, one month out from the games.”
Cline credits his Production Supervisor, Matthew Ball, for taking the lead on working with the incoming teams and all the executives involved in order to coordinate transportation in and out of the venue and city. Ball, like Cline, is also a wearer of many hats, as he is in charge of creating the ice as well.
“The MGM Grand production team really goes above and beyond for the games, and for all of the annual events for that matter,” Cline says.
“If we take care of all the advanced requirements properly, the weekend runs extremely smooth and we can actually take the game time to enjoy the action with the sold-out crowd of more than 12,000.”
It’s a safe bet that this year, twice the work will mean twice the reward.
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