How to Build a Hockey Rink


By: Tyler Farmer

By any stretch, Athens, Georgia is not a stereotypical location for an ice rink.  Believe it or not, Akins Ford Arena is normally a ballroom! How do you put an ice rink in a ballroom? I went to the Classic Center to witness the installation firsthand, and it is truly a fascinating process to go from an empty ballroom to hockey ready venue.  In its entirety, the transformative process is made up of ten steps

  1. A containment layer is created by using a tarp, similar to what you would see at a baseball game during a rain delay, to prevent water from getting on the ballroom floor.
  2. Numerous rectangular pieces of foam are laid down to allow the rink to withstand the weight of the Zamboni.
  3. Another tarp is used to create the rink line and prevent leaks.
  4. The elements are put down. The elements are long metal pieces that create the rink frame and allow the water to freeze through the connected hoses.
  5. Water is sprayed, and it takes about 24 hours to freeze.
  6. The boards are installed.
  7. A golf cart is used to crack the ice a little bit to test the overall strength of the ice and check for weak points.
  8. The vinyl lines and goalie creases are laid down.
  9. The glass is installed.
  10. The bleachers, concourse, and locker rooms are set up.

  Did You Know?

  • Step 2 requires over 500 pieces of foam!
  • In total, 52 elements are used, and each element is about 100 feet long
  • A Zamboni resurfaces the ice by cutting off the top layer and putting down warm water. The warm water melts the ice, which quickly refreezes, to create the shiny finish.
  • Glycol, basically antifreeze, is used to keep the tubes cold to help the water freeze faster. The Glycol is kept at around 15 degrees.
  • The entire process takes about four days, and it takes two days to convert the rink back into a ballroom.
  • The rink will be put down and removed four times throughout the season.

Below is a video overview of the entire build process from start until finish.