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Meet the Winter Classic's unsung heroes

by Dan Rosen
A worker installs the rink boards during the conversion of Ralph Willson Stadium from football to an ice rink for the 2008 NHL Winter Classic to be played on January 1, 2008 in Orchard Park, New York.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Annemarie Roe knows it all.

As the president of BaAM Productions, the project management company in charge of on-site preparation for the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic, Roe knows about every worker, and every piece of equipment that has or still will make its way into Ralph Wilson Stadium for the rest of the calendar year.

Just like NHL Facilities Operation Manager Dan Craig is the lifeline behind the playing surface, BaAM is the lifeline behind the construction and production of this grand event.

“It’s sort of like managing a construction site,” Roe told

BaAM isn’t new to this rodeo.

The company has worked with the National Hockey League since 1995 on Entry Drafts and All-Star Games. Roe said her group did the design development and installation coordination of the Olympic Spirit building for the 2006 Torino Games. They’ve worked with other professional sports leagues, such as Major League Baseball, on various projects as well.

“We’re a project management company and we work in the sports world, but we also work in the culture and heritage sectors,” Roe said.

Never, though, has BaAM worked on something like an outdoor hockey event inside a football stadium. That, along with the time crunch, is why Roe said this project has been particularly challenging.

“This is not a venue that is usually a rental venue, so working in a space like this means we have to be thinking through things like power supply, creating our own loading docks, finding our own storage, and finding enough local labor, which is always a trick,” Roe said. “The timeframe is incredibly tight and there are many, many layers of contractors and sub-contractors involved. We worked with the events department pulling together a master plan. Everybody has a work package that they have been hired to execute, and we help do the sequencing of all of that.

“It’s all the background stuff.”

For instance, BaAM hired and supervised the workers who build the penalty boxes and player benches. They brought equipment out of a storage facility NHL rents to build the entertainment stage, video boards, and Zamboni ramp.

They manage the access ramp to the field, and coordinate operations such as where various trucks are being parked, and where to get the extra snow necessary for décor purposes. They even know what type of adhesive is being used for the décor going up around the outside of the dasher boards.

“It’s coordination of footprints,” Roe said.

And, Roe can trace all of them.

“We work with them all the time,” Dan Craig said, “and without that group I don’t personally think we can come close to where we are right now.”

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