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The World Capitol Of Hockey Has A New Idea

A Toronto lakeside development has proposed an $88 million ice arena. The arena would hold four rinks, and as an added twist, the rinks would be stacked on top of each other.

A four pad arena being proposed in Toronto.
A four pad arena being proposed in Toronto.

In Blaine, Minn., there sits a relatively large structure. It is a nondescript building from the outside, looking like any other indoor hockey rink. Then, you step into the Schwan's Super Rink, and realize there is much more to this building than your typical rink. Inside, you find there are eight ice sheets, locker rooms for each, a workout center, administrative offices, a full service café and at least three places to get skates sharpened and buy hockey equipment.

When it was built, the Super Rink was billed as one of the largest indoor ice hockey buildings in the world. To be sure, it is no easy feat to fit eight ice sheets in one building and still have room for everything else needed to host a hockey game, such as concessions and bleachers.

Across the Twin Cities sits the Xcel Energy Center, in Saint Paul. "The X" as it is affectionately known here in Minnesota, is a state-of-the-art professional hockey arena that seats 18,568 people for a hockey game. By no means could the X be considered a small building. Three levels of seating, an event level beneath, and a level for suites make the building impressive in both size and aesthetics.

According to Kathy O'Conner, director of public and media relations for the Xcel Energy Center, says there are "40,000 cubic yards of poured in place concrete in the Xcel Energy Center, with 400 cubic yards on the ice floor slab." To put into perspective just how big buildings such as the X and the Super Rink are, O'Conner provided some further numbers. "There are 10,000 gallons of water needed to make one inch of ice, and the ice sheet is 1¼ inches thick," O'Conner said. "129 feet from the floor of the X to the grid, where rigging and lights are hung. That said, the height of our arena has more to do with the number of seats and the angle at which they are positioned. We would figure that in community rink setting, they'd be dealing with far fewer seats, hence, much shorter roof."

Indeed, the roof of the Super Rink is certainly lower, and there likely is not as much concrete for each pad as at the X either. Multiple requests for comment from the Super Rink went unanswered, but common sense says there is still more than a fair amount of water and concrete in the building.

When it comes to hockey, Minnesota prides itself on being the center of the hockey world for the U.S., and thus Minnesotans are very proud of the X, and the Super Rink. Certainly, Minnesotans feel they cannot be outdone with such a pairing of impressive ice arenas. Right?


Enter the plans being discussed in Toronto for a four pad ice arena. Fairly dry, right? Four is nothing. We have eight. Except the proposed building in Toronto would have those four pads stacked on top of each other. Yes, the building would house four completely separate, wholly functional ice arenas, all sitting one on top of the other.

The plan, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail, will cost upwards of $88 million, of which the city has pledged to pay only part. The rest of the funding would need to come from private funding, and is the largest stumbling block to the plan. There is support on both sides, as with any political topic, but being in Toronto, you have to figure this deal gets done eventually.

All of this is part of a lakeside development plan, thus the reason a ground level plan was rejected. The current proposal, designed by Bob Goyeche of RDH Architects, puts all parking underground and features a brilliant all-glass exterior. The arenas would each be capable of hosting a junior level hockey game and each would have its own Zamboni.

The questions abound. With 10,000 gallons of water on each floor, plus the concrete and other basic materials needed to create a single ice rink, how do you support all of that weight? If they do not approve Zambonis for each rink, how do you get the ice resurfacer from level to level? How many people could each floor possibly hold, given the height needed to support them?

While the question of how the building shall be funded remains, and how the logistics of it would work, it is clearly overwhelmed by the sheer wonder of the building. Put yourself outside of this building, or sitting out on the lake, four hockey games being simultaneously played just inside that all-glass exterior for all to see. Imagine the wonder in the eyes of children and adults alike, the ability to create a new hockey fan in seconds.

As Chris Weidenhamer, an architectural drafter with RSP Architects here in Minneapolis said, "A building with four sheets of ice, stacked, is a novelty. Four sheets stacked with an all glass exterior is a tourist attraction. If you wrap the building in concrete, stucco, metal, etc, it just looks like an eight story building. If you wrap it in glass you can see what's going on right away."

In other words, the true draw to this building lies in its beauty, not in its purpose. While the logistics of the whole idea are mind boggling, the sheer beauty of it is awe inspiring. This is not the Super Rink in Blaine. This is the Xcel Energy Center of community rinks.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.