Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Stage is set, ice is solid for the arena's opening

Just two days ago, Lindsay Flynn was finishing up one of the final - and some might say very important - jobs to get done before Saturday's grand opening of the $105 million Lucas County Arena.

The V/Gladieux Enterprises employee was busy stocking coolers with a wide variety of beer.

"Think we'll sell a lot of beer for hockey?" Ms. Flynn quipped.

Actually, her assignment was barely noticeable among the louder and more dramatic last-minute work that took place in the finals days leading up to the grand opening.

"There is a lot of small stuff on the punch list to get done, like changing some locks, wiring the employee punch clocks, and fine-tuning the lighting … but es-sentially we are ready," said arena general manager Steve Miller.

The 36-hour process to create a gleaming, 1 1/4-inch-thick sheet of hockey arena ice started Monday morning and ended Tuesday evening.

Jesus Rivera, a 13-year veteran of creating ice for hockey arenas, who was brought in by SMG, the firm that runs the arena, said the process cannot be rushed.

"You really have to do it in layers because if you put down too much water too quickly, it will freeze quickly and the ice will be brittle," Mr. Rivera said.

The ice expert, who was previously at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., actually went to "ice school" in Florida to learn the craft. "From then on, I've been the Ice Man," he said.

Now, the Ice Man calls West Toledo home. "This new Toledo facility is really nice and I think the fans will love it," he said.

Yesterday, crews were covering the ice with gray fiber-glass decking that will protect it during concerts and other events.

Elsewhere in the arena, Mark Klatt was helping to grind down some of the handrails that were installed in the seating area.

"The pieces didn't fit, so we are making them fit with a field modification," Mr. Klatt, an employee of Harmon Construction, said.

Half of the ice-covering planks will be removed tomorrow for a free hockey skills contest open to the public as part of the festivities that run from noon to 4 p.m.

More free events are slated for the same hours Sunday and the Toledo Walleye Hockey Club will hold a three-hour training camp beginning at 1 p.m. The event will also include arena tours and players signing autographs. The team has its first game there Oct. 16.

Single tickets for the first Toledo Walleye game will go on sale at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Jeff Dunham will appear at the venue Oct. 9, followed by So You Think You Can Dance Live Tour 2009 on Oct. 10, and the WWE Raw Live wrestling event on Oct. 11.

Mike Beazley, Lucas County administrator, said the final product is better than he had anticipated two years ago.

"In some ways, the reality is a little better than the planning," he said. "The thing that was really hard to see from the plans was the way it connects you to the city. When you are walking through the concourse, and can see the city buildings, it really fits into the urban fabric."

Mr. Beazley said crews may tackle minor tasks after the opening weekend, but all of the noticeable work will be complete by tonight.

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