Agganis Arena Takes Next Step to Completion

Boston University’s construction of Harry Agganis Arena reached a milestone today, as 425 yards of concrete were poured to create the 90’x200′ event floor. The concrete now covers over one mile of piping that will hold over 4,000 gallons of a glycol and water mixture that can chill or warm the ice.

The ice plant system at BU's new Agganis Arena, prior to today's concrete pouring to create the surface beneath the ice. (photos: Boston University Athletic Communications)

The ice plant system at BU’s new Agganis Arena, prior to today’s concrete pouring to create the surface beneath the ice. (photos: Boston University Athletic Communications)

The system will be able to circulate over 950 gallons of this glycol/water mixture per minute. Four temperature sensors under the ice will monitor the lowest floor point temperature.

The construction effort is handled by a partnership of Barton Malow and Walsh Brothers.

“This is my fourth ice sheet,” Senior Project Manager Steve Herckner said. “The whole key here is to get a flat surface, so the ice sheet you put down has a variance of thickness that doesn’t vary more than 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch. Then you get uniform ice, no soft spots, and it’s a great ice sheet to skate.”

Herckner also noted that the high-tech controls allow the home team to use the surface to reap a true home advantage.

Workers pour the concrete onto the new Agganis Arena floor.

Workers pour the concrete onto the new Agganis Arena floor.

“It also allows the home team to nurture the ice to meet their team’s specialties,” Herckner said. “If they have speed, they’re going to prep hard ice so they can skate faster; if they have more of a defensive team, they may soften the ice to slow it down. It’s similar to major league baseball with the infield — you can nurture the playing surface to meet the team’s strengths.”

Terrier Coach Jack Parker has made some special requests of the construction team.

“He has a lot of input,” Herckner said. “He’s done some things with the benches: We have a larger, deeper bench than normal to meet his style of coaching. … He wanted the old-time wooden benches. Where most people have gone with a poly, we’re going with a butcher-block wood [as they are in Walter Brown Arena] because we’re trying to bring some of the history of the old building into the new.”

According to General Manager Amy Brown, the project is on track to open for college hockey in early January. The plan is to host Minnesota in Walter Brown Arena on Sunday, Jan. 2 before having the teams match up again on Monday, Jan. 3 in Agganis Arena. “We’re fully on schedule to open on Jan. 3 against Minnesota,” Brown said. “We have a nice buffer of time; we’ll have some soft events [i.e., student open house, dedication] in December.

“This is a major milestone,” Brown said of today’s encasing of the ice plant. “It means that our event floor is here. Next our dasher boards go in, and we’ll start drilling seats very shortly. Other items are on order: staging, chairs, basketball floor… Our scoreboard and video ribbon will be coming in over the next few months and installed.

“One of the very exciting things about the milestone of the event floor is that I’m starting to imagine people’s experiences and memories that will be created here. BU’s student-athletes will win big games here that will be part of their life’s memories. And we’re going to be there as fans. I always love the fact that people will forget about their lives for a few hours to experience the best concert they’ve ever seen or the best family event or hockey game. That’s pretty special stuff.”

Upon completion, the Arena will seat 6,300 fans for ice hockey games and ice shows; it will be able to accommodate a crowd of 7,500 for concerts.