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CHANGEOVERS

One minute thousands are enjoying a great game of Mavericks basketball -- it ends, they all leave, and just a few hours later the puck drops on Dallas Stars hockey. Amazing.

American Airlines Center is a versatile facility, shifting from basketball to hockey to concerts in minutes, not hours, if need be. They are called changeovers, and they happen a few times every year. When two very different events are scheduled in the AACenter on the same day.

Click the play button on the video frame to the left to see a changeover from basketball to hockey. This 21-second video will show you what happens in the two hours of a normal changeover.

Teamwork

It takes a team of 40 - 60 people just under two hours to convert the arena floor from a basketball court into an ice hockey rink or vice versa. The team is broken into five groups and each group is given four to five specific tasks that they work on during the conversion. Nicknamed the "Skittles Crew," each group is assigned a color coded shirt.

Step-by-Step

The floor conversion from the Dallas Mavericks court to the Dallas Stars hockey rink, starts with the retraction of the seats in the lowest part of the arena bowl. Retractable seat sections automatically slide under the higher level seats and make room for the hockey rink boards. The seating pods in the north and south ends of the arena are lifted and moved with forklifts, and the sideline seats and press tables are packed up by hand and moved into storage. All the while, the 240 maple wood pieces that make up the Dallas Mavericks court floor are picked up and moved by hand.

In between the hardwood basketball surface and the hockey ice below is a dark colored polar covering. This polar floor not only prevents damage to the ice, but also keeps the condensation from warping the wooden basketball floor.  

With the wood floor removed, the 120 dasher board pieces and 96 panes of glass that surround the Dallas Stars Hockey Rink are put into place. The high nets are dropped from the arena ceiling and affixed to the glass are both ends of the arena. The polar floor covering is removed last and the Zambonis begin their work resurfacing the ice.

The speed of the conversion matters as much as the quality of the arena's ice. NHL officials grade the ice at all the arenas, and Dallas' ranked third behind Minnesota and Ottawa in the 06' season.


Timeline of best conversion performance December 29, 2007 in 80 minutes

2:32 p.m.
Final buzzer sounds on Mavericks vs. Atlanta.

2:50 p.m.
Removable seats folded up and nets behind hockey goals lowered. Cleaning crew spreads across lower bowl while the chairs along the sidelines are removed.

3:17 p.m.
Mavericks fans have exited. Risers in the bottom seating bowl are pulled away. Conversion crew has half the court removed as the dasher boards begin to appear.

4:10 p.m.
Conversion completed, ice uncovered and all dasher boards installed.

4:20 p.m.
Zambonis run.

6:30 p.m.
Arena's doors are opened, and ice is ready for players to warm-up.

8:00 p.m.
Puck drops for Stars vs. St. Louis.