How Climate Pledge Arena will go from Coldplay to Kraken in 12 hours
Roughly 12 hours after Coldplay’s final notes and the melodious echo of Chris Martin’s vocals in Seattle Center’s all-new Climate Pledge arena, the new NHL team, the Seattle Kraken, will have to hit the ice for a morning practice. before the home team debut that evening. It’s a quick change for the staff on what is the grand opening of the new arena.
“It’s exciting, but there is also a level of stress,” said Tom Conroy, senior vice president, operations and deputy general manager of Climate Pledge Arena. “We’ve never done it before. We will have the opportunity to speak again and to rest it, but not within these tight deadlines. “
Preparing the Climate Pledge Arena for Coldplay’s official opening concert on October 22 has been a multi-year effort. The new NHL team home, which retained historic pieces of the old KeyArena roofline and dug deeper underground to completely redo the bowl and back room in a project funded by billion dollar private funds, focuses on concerts and hockey, creating a place that can easily handle changes and offers ease of use.
“We have everything a tour needs,” says Conroy. Installation possibilities inside the Climate Pledge Arena include designs for the Final Stage 180, the Final Stage 270 and the Final Stage 360 as well as round-robin concerts, allowing the stage to s sit directly in the middle of the floor with the full arena feel encompassing it.
The Coldplay concert, the first public event, highlights the concert configuration in the round.
Whatever configuration the tour chooses, Climate Pledge is there to “make it happen,” says Conroy. And the design of the space was created to make it happen. Even with a downtown building, the loading dock provides an environment for loading and unloading.
The loading dock descends over 60 feet below street level with a tunnel over 400 feet long spanning about a city and a half. The 30-foot-wide tunnel, enough for two trucks to pass, and 15-foot high clearance gets the trucks into eight different bays, though it will be “rare enough for them all to be full.” In the loading area there is room for the trucks to turn around and the entire area is air conditioned, which is important with the rain and humidity of the Pacific Northwest. “It’s pretty smooth,” says Conroy.
The goal of OVG arena operators is to operate the world’s most sustainable arena, achieve net zero carbon, eliminate single-use plastics and waste, and conserve water.
The zero carbon effort begins now, including mechanical systems, motors (including those used in the process of converting from gig to hockey), heating and cooking using 100% renewable electrical energy. When carbon emissions occur during transportation, such as during loading, the arena will buy carbon offsets.
Rainwater conservation begins with the Rain to Rink program, which means Seattle’s rainfall creates ice for the rink. In the process, the system captures water from the roof, feeds it by gravity into a tank through a series of filters, and then fills a daily tank that the Zamboni crew can use to resurface the ice.
Conroy says this doesn’t change the day-to-day operations of the rink, but adds another mechanical system to manage and, if there is enough water left in the reservoir, that means Seattle’s rainwater is moving from the sky to the sky. roof going through the ice rink.
The ice for the 2021-22 NHL season has already arrived, with the last week of September welcoming the process of laying the base, painting the ice and finishing the surface. The ice rink was then sheltered for weeks as construction crews continued final work around the site.
8ft x 5ft polyethylene black ice deck pieces cover the ice, requiring only one coat to protect it from construction cranes to Coldplay stages. “It has very good insulating properties and you can use a floor washer or drive a forklift on it,” says Conroy. “It’s really dense and not heavy. You can put a stage, a carpet or 1,800 people there. “
Converting concert to hockey
In a perfect world, says Conroy, his team can handle the conversion from gig to hockey in about three hours. They will have a little leeway during the transition from October 22 to 23, but not much.
“I’m not nervous at all,” he said, “I’ve put together the best arena operations team in the National Hockey League. Nevertheless, he knows that the staff will benefit from a lot of on-the-job training. “People are going to come and drink from the fire hose,” said Conroy. “From my managers down, I only went out to find people who had worked in an NBA or NHL arena. ”
As the concert ends, several teams get into motion, all working in unison. Say, for example, if a show ends at 10:30 p.m., it loads immediately. The stagehands and the road crew begin to dismantle the sound, lights, video and rear rigging as the performers leave the stage.
Once the last road case is removed from the scene, crews destroy the home scene to free up ongoing work on the rink.
At the same time, the arena team puts the hockey glass back in place, breaking down the general admission section of the floor seats – the Coldplay concert will have no chairs on the floor, which will speed up the process on the floor. October 22 – and reinstate the access areas to the hockey fields. The arena’s retractable riser system will not be fully utilized for Coldplay, also making the process easier.
The hockey glass comes in as the ice shelf is picked up, all returning to the entrance to Zamboni.
At the same time, there are 125 other employees in the building, who clean everything from suites and premium spaces to general seating, lobbies, restrooms and outdoor grounds.
Once the arena conversion is complete, the Ice Salvage Team climbs onto the ice with one of the two Zambonis to scrape, rehydrate the ice, and clean everything up.
NHL protocol offers a morning practice session at 10:30 a.m. for the home team and a practice session at 11:30 a.m. for visitors. This means that if a concert ends at 10:30 p.m. the night before, the team has 12 hours to convert the arena plus recondition the ice.
“We want him to be ready,” says Conroy. “We would like our conversion to never last more than three hours, but maybe we finish it at six in the morning. This is the first time we’ve done this, a complete conversion from gig to hockey. We think we know what we are doing.
Seattle’s protocol for converting to Climate Pledge Arena is nothing so different from the 31 other NHL arenas. Each actual rink is the same size – 200 feet long by 85 feet wide – and all have a hockey glass and ice floor. “There is no real science in this,” says Conroy. “You put glass in, take the ice bridge and stack it. Of course there are a few nuances, like the introduction of the penalty benches, but nothing unusual.
Having a slightly simpler opportunity for the team’s first major conversion sets the stage for more complicated efforts in the future.
And while the first conversion sets the rink set for three straight Kraken games, an Eric Church concert on October 30 provides the second overnight conversion opportunity, with the Kraken’s fourth home game the following night.