Colorado Avalanche: Coors Field Being Prepared

Progress of the ice rink being constructed at Coors Field in preparation for the Stadium Series game. Photo credit: Nadia Archuleta
Progress of the ice rink being constructed at Coors Field in preparation for the Stadium Series game. Photo credit: Nadia Archuleta /

The NHL is preparing Coors Field for the Colorado Avalanche Stadium Series weekend, preceded by a game between Denver University and Colorado College.

In under two weeks — 11 days, more like — the Colorado Avalanche will be hosting the Detroit Red Wings for a regular season Stadium Series game.  The game starts at 6 pm. The previous night at 5 pm, the much-anticipated Alumni Game is taking place between Avalanche and Red Wings greats.

One week prior to the regular season game, on February 20, the Denver University Pioneers are hosting the Colorado College Tigers for a hockey game on the Coors Field ice.

On Thursday, February 11, NHL crews were already getting started building the ice rink. According to Mike Craig, the NHL’s senior manager of facility operations, the rink is slated to be finished by February 18.

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Building an Outdoor Hockey Rink

It might be one thing in Minnesota and, presumably, Canada to spray your backyard with water and utilize the frozen result as a hockey rink. That’s not how it works to build an NHL-grade hockey rink in the center of a professional sports field, of course.

First, contractors lay out footings, or adjustable wood and steel constructions, on the field. They place a subfloor of decking and plywood on top of the footings. This ensures a level surface. After that comes aluminum trays for the ice, the ice itself and white paint for the eventual markings.

The aluminum trays hold glycol pumped from a refrigeration truck. The glycol chills the trays and maintains that cold temperature.

Here’s the beginning production:

NHL crews started making the ice on February 13. As Mike Craig explains it, the actual ice making is one of the most arduous process:

"“We spray with fine layers of water. It usually takes us about eight hours of spraying water continuously to get about a quarter-inch of ice.”"

Craig added that crews were aiming for over two inches in preparation for the college game. Do the math — that’s 24 hours of spraying.

Now, Colorado is renowned for unpredictable weather. As of now, we’re enjoying unseasonably warm weather. Craig compared the situation to building the ice rinks in California and explained that crews work on the ice making overnight.

About halfway through the freezing process, workers use water soluble paint to whiten the ice, also adding the red and blue lines as well as the logos.

Here’s a sneak peak of the ice surface taken yesterday:

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Workers on the ice at Coors Field. Photo credit: Nadia Archuleta /

As you can see, the boards are already up, but there’s no glass. That’ll be done by Thursday. During the day, crews place insulated tarps on top of the ice.

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Workers on the ice at Coors Field. /

Here’s what a completed Stadium Series ice rink looks like

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Feb 21, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Members of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate after defeating the San Jose Sharks 2-1 during the Stadium Series hockey game at Levis Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Crews at Coors Field still have a ways to go:

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View from The Rooftop of Coors Field being prepared for the Stadium Series game. Photo credit: Nadia Archuleta /

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Particulars of the Stadium Series Game

More from Mile High Sticking

For the Stadium Series weekend, security will be following Pepsi Center rules. That means you’re not allowed to bring in any food or drink nor cameras with removable lenses. Bags must be soft-sided and no larger than 16″X16″X8″. I think I don’t need to mention that no weapons — including work knives — are allowed. Attendees go through a metal detector and may be wanded if it’s deemed necessary.

Also, in case you’re coming from out of town, while marijuana is legal in Colorado, it is not legal in venues. Indeed, no smoking of any kind, including vaping, is allowed on the premises.

Coors Field has some limited parking near the stadium. It’s $25 in advance and $30 day of. There is also parking around the field. However, Coors Field is located in the heart of LoDo, or downtown, and parking is very limited and pricey. Better options are taking the light rail to Union Station and walking the three blocks or taking a taxi/Uber car.

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While outside food and drink is not allowed on the premises, I have it on good authority that the best dining option is Chub Burgers and the best drink option is Rio Margaritas — as well as Coors, of course. Tailgating is not permitted, but there are numerous bars and restaurants in the environs. I’ll be covering that in a future post.