Switching surfaces: How Xtream Arena’s floor changes during hockey season

The multi-purpose facility can host a variety of events, including basketball, wrestling, volleyball, and hockey.


Shivansh Ahuja

The main floor is seen during Xtream Arena’s opening media tour in Coralville on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

From volleyball to hockey and wrestling to concerts, Xtream Arena in Coralville can host a variety of different activities on its floor. Occasionally, the staff at the venue must switch from ice to hardwood or mats overnight.

Though it might seem complicated to an outside eye, Xtream Arena’s management group has developed a process to make changing the surface of the floor quick and easy.

For example, the arena hosted an American Hockey League exhibition game that ended at 9:21 p.m. last Friday night. By 10 p.m., venue staffers were preparing for an Iowa volleyball practice that was scheduled for 10 a.m. the following day.

Xtream Arena and GreenState Family Fieldhouse General Manager Jack Ligon said the industry standard for changing the surface of an arena’s floor is about four or five hours. Ligon added that, with an operations staff of about 30 people, Xtream Arena’s floor can be flipped in about six hours.

“Coming out of hockey, the biggest thing is the glass comes out,” Ligon said. “The ice decking goes in, so that is what covers the ice. All the netting goes up to the steel in the roof, glass comes out, and the dasher boards stay in.”

When the arena converts back into a hockey rink, Ligon said the process goes in reverse. The arena’s ice tech cleans up the hockey team’s playing surface after the decking is removed.

Xtream Arena’s floor will have ice on it until the Iowa Heartlanders’ season ends this spring. When the ECHL season ends, the venue’s cooling system will be turned off so the ice can melt and be removed.

Until that point, ice decking will be used when the arena hosts any non-hockey events.

Xtream Arena’s staff is currently preparing to host a concert that features seven-time Grammy Award nominee and country music star Toby Keith. The event will begin Thursday at 7 p.m.

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For the Keith concert, the venue’s employees will remove the ice hockey dasher boards to make room for light and sound equipment. Once the boards and glass are removed and decking is placed on top of the ice, chairs will be set on top of the once-slippery arena floor.

Though Xtream Arena is still in its infancy, it’s already encountered issues with its dehumidification system. The problem forced Iowa volleyball matches scheduled for Oct. 1 and 2 to be relocated.

Per a release, Iowa volleyball’s Oct. 1 and 2 matchups with Michigan State and Michigan were moved to Carver-Hawkeye Arena because the court at Xtream Arena was having unforeseen issues.

With too much moisture in the air, the court was not fit for competition. The Hawkeyes returned to Xtream Arena Oct. 9 after the venue’s dehumidification system was repaired.

Ligon also oversees GreenState Family Fieldhouse’s conversions. The five-court, 53,000-square-foot space recently host Iowa City West High School’s homecoming dance. The fieldhouse’s floor was covered with carpet squares ahead of the dance.

“We do a variety of basketball, volleyball, pickleball, so different things, different setups at the court,” Ligon said. “But we can cover them and do a variety of different activities in there. We’ve done gymnastics as well. So, really it’s a lot of versatility on the different things that we can host in both spaces.”