From the 200-level seats, the rink boards surrounding the bowl of Pinnacle Bank Arena looked more like they were encircling a particularly reflective portion of concrete floor than a newly installed sheet of ice.
There was no coat of white paint underneath the 3/4-inch-thick sheet of ice. No blue lines. No discernible neutral zone. And without a Zamboni on hand to smooth the surface, the ice was about as slippery as a bathtub mat.
But the rink didn’t leak. The water, applied an eighth or sixteenth of an inch at a time over previously frozen layers stayed frozen. The in-house cooling system passed its test, too.
And IJ Rosenblum, director of operations at the arena, could envision cartoon-costumed skaters and hockey goons alike taking to the ice after a successful first test.
Officials with SMG and Mortenson Construction joined an ice consultant from the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., to survey the rink setup as construction crews continued to work in what this week became the 460,000-square-foot equivalent of a walk-in cooler.
“What we’ve learned is everything is working exactly the way we wanted it, and we had a good freeze on the ice,“ Rosenblum said.
The test has been planned for about four months, and it confirms that the new arena can host a touring event like Disney On Ice, which brings its own cooling system and Zamboni along with Goofy and Jasmine.
“It also enables us to be hockey-ready, in case (the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) wants to play here or if we want to look at a minor league hockey franchise, also the possibility to bring in an NHL preseason game to the area.”
To get the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the school would first need to add a hockey team. The university has a club team that plays in Fremont and is supposed to be a tenant at the proposed Breslow Ice Center.
To actually begin the process of wooing a minor league team is another thing entirely, Rosenblum said.
But the test run told him the arena could handle short-term or long-term on-ice tenants, should the opportunities arise.
“It’s a big milestone bringing the ice in,” he said.