PHILADELPHIA -- Just when it looked like everything was back on schedule, the cloud cover that NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig thought would shadow his rink throughout Thursday afternoon instead was burned through by sunlight, adding another element of drama to the rink build at Citizens Bank Park.
"They said partly cloudy, and I don't see partly cloudy at all," Craig told NHL.com at 12:30 Thursday afternoon. "It just comes down to getting it done one way or the other. One day we get cloud cover and three-quarters of an inch of rain. The next day we're supposed to be building and we get 40 mile-per-hour winds. And then the next day we're supposed to be doing logos and lines and we got bright sunshine."
Several members of Craig's crew stayed at the park late Wednesday night spraying water on the rink to seal in the white paint. Craig and others arrived at Citizens Bank Park early Thursday morning and began laying in the lines, logos, faceoff circles, goal creases and trapezoids with the hope that they could begin sealing them by 11 a.m.
Bright sunlight, though, altered those plans, forcing the crew to cover the markings with insulated tarps and pushing the rink-build back more than three hours.
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Craig said the insulated tarps were necessary because the markings were frozen in with only a light spray of water, and had the sunlight hit them it would have burned right through, leaving the crew with the challenge of having to start the process again.
"We're trying to build ice and we didn't even have a 32nd of an inch on top of the logos," Craig said. "It would take the sun like 20 minutes and it would all be gone."
It wasn't until 2:30 p.m. that the crew started to lift the tarps off the ice and bring the hoses back out. A late cloud cover and the changing angle of the sun made it possible to get water back on the ice surface at that point.
"All we'll get in today is 10 hours of build time and then we'll have to come back tomorrow morning and put in the other six," Craig said. "I need it set by 11 o'clock in the morning because our media game is at noon."
Craig said that will require some members of the crew to return to the ballpark by 4 a.m. Friday, but it's all part of the challenge when it comes to working with elements that are out of anybody's control.
"The thing is you always go in with a plan, and even when we're in meetings, it doesn't matter if it's July or a week away from the event, you know that you don't play odds on Mother Nature," Craig said. "She will win every time. That's the way it is."