Basketball to Hockey Changeover

This past December, we at Capital One Arena had one of a few yearly "double days." A double day is when we have two events that require a changeover in between. Everyone loves an arena timelapse video that shows the few hours in between two events, and those videos are what first peaked my interest in event management as a career. In this case, we had a Georgetown basketball game in the early afternoon and a Capitals game later on in the evening.

Personally, I have not yet been numbed me to the coolness of watching a changeover in progress, so I took these pictures during our last double day of 2019. I also thought I'd explain a few things about what is actually going on, as I figure I can't be the only one to find it all incredibly interesting!

Georgetown began the day with a noon tip-off. Thankfully for all involved, the game did not go into overtime, therefore not cutting into valuable changeover time.

2:25 p.m. - The game has been over for about 15 minutes at this point. The only people left in the stands are in the Samford family section (right under the scoreboard) and the chairs on both the east and west end risers have been picked up and put on chair carts. All of the chairs around the court are being taken off as well to clear the hockey floor.

On the court, you can see a bunch of 6’ x 2’ cardboard rectangles that have been placed in a pattern. As each of the wooden floor panels of the basketball court are picked up, they’ll be stacked on top of each other with the cardboard in between so they have less of a chance of chipping/scratching.

You can also see that the hockey tunnels are being built out. These are the tunnels that the hockey players will access their locker rooms from. During any event that isn't hockey, the tunnels are covered by decks and have chairs placed over them which then blend right in to the rows of seats already in the section. You can see the decks are still in on the left tunnel.

2:36 p.m. - You can now see the hockey tunnel on the right has had its decks removed, and the barriers on each side, to keep fans from being able to fall into it, are being assembled.

If you compare the far left and far right ends now, you see that the risers on the left are being disassembled and the right ones are still fully intact. Each set of risers is made of 3 large sections (for reference, only one of them is remaining on the left side) and they push inward to create a stack of decks that get rolled off the floor for most non-basketball events.

During virtually all non-hockey events, the hockey boards stay up but are covered with black cloths just to make them look a little better. At this point in the changeover, you can see that the covers have been taken off.

2:59 p.m. - The floor is now starting to be peeled up from the bottom right of the picture. This is done from the top and the bottom of the court, in long rows, and then they meet in the middle.

On the far side, you can see that the home and away hockey benches are starting to take shape. All of the seats that were there have been removed, as well as the decks that were under them, similar to how the hockey tunnels were cleared out. It’s pretty crazy how many seats near the floor are completely removed/added before every event!

Most of the chairs, risers, scorer’s tables, LED walls, etc. have been removed from the floor at this point, so all we have left between us and the ice is the Georgetown hardwood and the insulated padding.

3:24 p.m. - The hoops are getting rolled off and the floor is almost there! The down-aisles, AKA the stairways in between the sections in the seating bowl, have been closed off where they meet the floor. This is because for basketball games, guests can sit on the floor and those aisles are their access points. That is obviously not the case for hockey, so the boards need to be completely closed off all the way around.

On the far side, the hockey tunnels are closed off now and are ready to go. The benches in between them are getting there as well.

On the near side, opposite the hockey tunnels, you may be able to see that some seats and decks have been removed there, too. This is for the penalty boxes, which are set off of the ice and in the area where there would normally be seats at any other event. Additional hockey boards and plexiglass are being set up there now.

3:39 p.m. - The basketball floor is now all stacked up, just about 45 minutes after they started. More hockey glass is being rolled in (the three tall carts throughout the right side of the floor) and we’re almost ready to expose the ice.

While this has all been going on on the floor, the cleaning department is sweeping and mopping the entire building, seat to seat. In addition to a million other things going on behind the scenes during this time!

4:16 p.m. - The basketball floor is entirely clear at this point, and the bases for the sub-floor have been placed. The sub-floor is insulated padding, about an inch thick, that lies between the ice and whatever is placed on top of it. When you have floor seats at a concert during the NHL season, chances are there’s only an inch of padding between you and the ice!

4:27 p.m. - The sub-floor is being removed and the ice is out! The remaining 50% of plexiglass around the rink has been placed, too.

4:47 p.m. - The ice is almost completely exposed and we are starting to look mighty pretty. Once the sub-floor is gone, the Olympia (the “Puffs” to the Zamboni’s “Kleenex”) will come out to cut and lay some fresh sheets of ice.

5:06 p.m. - We’re clear! Outside of the Operations department who has been doing most of the work that I have explained here, there are also numerous other departments working on tons of other things at the same time. There are cameras being installed all over the place, wires being run to the penalty boxes and scoring tables, TV trucks swapping out, locker rooms (and an entire arena) being cleaned, LED’s being staged, and the list goes on and on. I know a fair amount, but I still only know about 10% of what goes on.

5:53 p.m. - Gates have opened for fans to enter, and we are officially ready for an NHL hockey game. The changeover is done-zo!

Thank you for reading, I hope you found something interesting!

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