Photo of a basketball court being installed inside an arena.

Image Credit: David Jones (CC BY 2.0)

There are 11 arenas in professional sports that are home to both NBA and NHL teams. If you've ever wondered how these arenas can transform from a basketball venue to a hockey venue and vice versa within just a few hours, you're not alone. If you think that this transformation and changeover process is easy, well, you've got a lot to learn.

The timeline for transitioning from an NHL game to an NBA game typically follows this order. The entire process can typically be completed in less than two and a half hours depending on the size of the working operations crew. 

1. Remove the protective netting in each goal zone above the glass. Then, remove the protective glass. There are generally more than 150 pieces of glass that are installed around the ice rink. Each piece of glass is labeled and has been bolted into place. The pieces of glass are stacked on carts and hauled off and placed into storage. 

2. The changeover of the seating begins. If you've ever seen how the bleachers can fold up in a high school gymnasium, the same applies here. Bleachers are folded up according to the arena's seating plan and pushed back to allow for additional space for the crew to install the basketball court. The ice is then covered with more than 500 pieces of insulated plywood which have the capability of keeping the ice cold. 

3. The parquet pieces that comprise the basketball court are then rolled out on carts and laid down over the plywood. Most basketball court pieces measure 4 x 8 feet and there are generally more than 200 pieces that make up the entire court. A crew of four are usually needed to lift each piece which are locked into place using a groove and latch system. A crew member will then use a sledgehammer to tighten each piece into place. 

4. The basketball goals are brought out on a forklift and laid down at each end of the court. Basketball goals are very mobile and can generally be completely assembled in less than an hour. 

5. Setup the courtside seats. More courtside seating is available for professional basketball games since a basketball court is much smaller than an ice rink. When transitioning from basketball games to hockey games, these seats will be removed completely.

6. Small miscellaneous tasks are then performed. These could include making room for all of the wiring needed for the media, setting up media tables, changing out the padding on the basketball goals if different sponsors are supposed to appear on the padding for that particular game, etc.  

The operations crew typically has the tear down and installation process for both playing surfaces perfected to a "T" within a month after the seasons begin in October. If you're a hockey fan, one thing you may not realize is that the ice stays in place from the beginning of the season until the conclusion in the spring. A calcium-chloride solution called "brinewater" is what helps keep the ice cold throughout the season. When the season ends, the brinewater is then warmed and used to help melt the ice. After the ice has melted sufficiently, the ice is then cracked and broken up by the operations crew and then thrown away.  

The 11 arenas that are home to both an NHL and NBA team are as follows.




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