Philadelphia Eagles News

Turning The Linc Into A Rink

The calendar reads February 12 and the scene at the NovaCare Complex is calm and serene.

With the players gone for the offseason and the NFL news cycle slowing down after the Super Bowl, everyone is taking a collective deep breath after enduring the rigors of the 2018 season.

Well, everyone except the members of the organization who work at Lincoln Financial Field.

This time of the year is usually quiet for the likes of Ryan Hummel, the team's director of facilities, and Chris Sharkoski, the team's director of event operations, but this year is an exception.

That is because Hummel, Sharkoski, and the rest of the team at Lincoln Financial Field are preparing for the latest installment of the NHL's Stadium Series, which pits the hometown Flyers against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

Less than two weeks out, however, Hummel and Sharkoski took a short break from those preparations to stop by the NovaCare Complex for a meeting and blended right in with the peaceful vibe of the facility.

Meanwhile, the transformation of Lincoln Financial Field from a football stadium to a hockey rink has already commenced. Sports require everyone to come together to achieve a common goal, and this is no different.

"Our operations team is awesome and ready and willing to take on this event," Hummel said.

From the planning stages that began last spring to when the last piece of equipment is removed from the stadium on March 4, thousands of hours will have been spent putting this event together by hundreds of people.

Although the team that Hummel and Sharkoski represent has years of experience and preparation behind it, the uniqueness of the Stadium Series presents numerous challenges.

The first is inexperience. Lincoln Financial Field has never hosted an outdoor hockey game. Sharkoski, Hummel, and the crew sought out the advice of its neighbors at Citizens Bank Park, which hosted the event in 2012, to get an idea of the endeavor they were about to undertake.

They even reached out to the stadium operations team at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, which hosted Penguins games in 2011 and 2017, because of its similarities to Lincoln Financial Field.

There is also the challenge of holding the game in February, as Lincoln Financial Field doesn't typically host outdoor events at this point of the year.

The Eagles are done playing home games by January at the latest. Concerts and other sporting events don't usually happen until the spring, at the earliest, leaving this time of the year for maintenance and upkeep. But with the Stadium Series, the timeline was accelerated.

Another challenge is the length of time it takes to convert the stadium. The process of making the ice alone is a four-to-five day process. That doesn't happen until after the rink is built, which also took a couple of days.

"I think it's unique because it's the longest build we've had for anything whereas a concert is normally three days, four days, and then it's showtime," Sharkoski said. "This is two weeks."


The amount needed to pull off a transformation of this magnitude is staggering. It requires nearly 18,000 feet of plywood to construct the rink, 3,000 gallons of glycol coolant to freeze it, 20,000 gallons of water to create the ice surface, 25,000 feet of electrical cable to power the on-field operation, and a refrigeration unit that weighs more than 96,000 pounds.

Although daunting, the task of putting on the Stadium Series was a welcome one for the team at Lincoln Financial Field, as it is unlike any event the stadium has ever held.

"We like doing new events," Sharkoski said. "We've done concerts. We've done lacrosse. This is the first time we're doing it so it's the challenge of that and seeing how the building can handle it."

Lincoln Financial Field has handled everything else thrown its way, and the expectation is that the Stadium Series will be no different.

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