Westpac Stadium has had a frozen facelift, in two days transforming from a grassy rugby venue into an ice hockey rink.
It hosts the Team Canada v Team USA Ice Hockey Classic on Saturday, one week after the All Blacks and France tangled there in the second rugby test.
Transformation began at midnight on Wednesday, where workers began the time-constrained process of putting together the “packed in” ice hockey rink.
Stadium turf manager Hagen Faith said they were on track to have the job completed by Saturday afternoon, just hours before the first puck is hit.
“Luckily the weather has held off and fingers crossed it stays that way.,” he said.
Rain could have disrupted preparations.
“It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, only bigger and we’ve just got to piece it all together.”
Faith and his team required close to 1000 tonne of gravel to fill the 640 cubic metres of space needed for the playing surface.
Imported ice mats, essentially refrigeration coils, were then laid over the gravel base, with dasher boards and protective glass completing the skeleton of the rink.
About 40,000 litres of water was poured in on Thursday night, and was frozen by morning. External structures such as player’s benches and advertising boards were also slotted in that night.
Ice markings and groomings were the final touches.
Saturday afternoon’s Ice Hockey Classic will be the first international hockey match played in the capital.
The Ice Blacks (New Zealand men’s ice hockey team) are in the curtain-raiser before the main event, making them the ninth New Zealand side across all codes to have played at the stadium in the past 12 months.
Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon said ice hockey was a great way to cap off a busy month.
“Having just hosted the All Blacks last weekend, Hagen, his team and all the volunteers have done extraordinarily well to have everything in place for us to host this historic ice hockey match.
“We’re always looking for innovative ideas to make use of our world-class facility and so when the opportunity came for us to host New Zealand’s first outdoor ice hockey game, we jumped at it.”
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