Cold, Hard Facts

How the ice floor is created at the Amway Center

Norma Lopez Molina


Q: How is the ice floor created for hockey games at Amway Center?
Crews remove insulated fiberglass panels from the Amway floor before a Disney on Ice show.
A: After debunking rumors of labor gleaned from Antarctican penguin farms, Answer Man decided to visit the Amway and get to the bottom of the ice question. The bottom, it turns out, is a concrete slab containing chilling pipes that freeze the surface to 14 degrees.
Since basketball and hockey seasons overlap, and Orlando’s Magic and Solar Bears teams both will be using the arena, the floor serves as a basketball court on some nights and an ice rink on others. So at the beginning of the season, says Amway operations manager Marshall Palmer, workers spray a one-inch sheet of ice atop the slab. (That ice surface stays put, except for one melting/respraying around midseason.) To accommodate basketball games, insulated fiberglass panels are placed over the ice and sections of parquet basketball flooring are then put atop the panels. If a hockey game is the next event, the floor and panels are removed down to the ice. For concerts, the parquet is removed but the panels remain.
Now for the cool stuff: That sheet of ice is made up of 10,000 gallons of water. To get it just right, workers walk along with a machine that sprays a fine mist in a process that takes 24 hours–and 40 miles of back-and-forth walking, Palmer says.
Also, figure skaters require soft ice (about 22 degrees) that can handle their jumps and landings as their skates dig into the surface. Hockey players, meanwhile, are looking for speed and fast puck movement, so they like a harder ice floor of about 16 degrees. Palmer and his crew can adjust the temperature of the chilling pipes to satisfy both groups.
Q: What’s the story behind the scrunched-up Volkswagen Bug parked outside Ice Cold Auto Air?
A: The 1967 Beetle has been outside the auto air-conditioning business at the corner of East Colonial Drive and FeThe Bug is driveable—sort of.rncreek Avenue for about 15 years. What causes passers-by to do a double take is that somebody has taken a 4-foot-chunk out of it.
That somebody would be Jim Chute, owner of Ice Cold. He and a former business partner decided a shortened Bug would be a cool novelty item, so they cut the middle out, welded the remaining pieces together, reinforced the frame and reconfigured the gear/brake linkage. Which means that, yes, this baby still runs, although, Chute notes, “It’s not really something you want to drive down the street. With any kind of speed, it’s so short that it’s not really that controllable.’’ Even so, Answer Man, ever the danger ranger, was eager to take the Bug out for a spin. Until he learned it’s not air-conditioned.
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