Take a normal spring day and some heat is bound to get into Verizon Center and mess with the ice. Add the Metro’s impact from below, and it’s hard to make the playing surface perfect.
But the folks there sure are trying, even installing giant dehumidifiers before Game 3 of the Washington Capitals vs. the New York Rangers.
“We decided because the weather’s been so wacky this year where we go from 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity to 40 degrees and threats and of frost, that we would be proactive and go ahead and get them for this round,” arena senior vice president and general manager Dave Touhey said. “It gives us one more tool to be able to control the climate.”
The machines are set up at the Zamboni entrance and include a series of gigantic, blue tubes. The tubes take air away from the rink and shuffle it in another direction. In the hallway near one of the dehumidifiers, the warmth is noticeable.
Some NHL arenas, like Tampa Bay Times Forum, have the contraptions all the time.
“The NHL requires them once humidity outside reaches certain levels, so once you reach certain rounds of the playoffs they would require them,” Touhey said.
The ideal is a humidity level at 50 percent or below.
“The lower the better: 50, 40 is great. I think most buildings a lot of time of the year are probably around 50,” Touhey said. “Once you start getting doors open and people getting in, people naturally moving around creates some humidity.”
That’s why event staff at Verizon Center make sure doors to the outside and even waiting areas are closed and why the arena does not open more than an hour before game time, even in the playoffs.
Read more on proactive ice things Verizon Center is doing here.