T-Mobile Arena is built for hockey

If you’re a hockey fan, you’re going to love T-Mobile Arena.

If you’re a hockey player who skates for the hoped-to-be Las Vegas NHL franchise, you’re going to love coming to work.

The first hockey game in the new $375 million arena behind New York-New York and Monte Carlo won’t be played until October, when the Los Angeles Kings come to town for two exhibition games. But for the fans who come to watch, they’ll be impressed with the sightlines.

“This building was designed with hockey in mind,” T-Mobile Arena General Manager Dan Quinn said of the facility, which will seat 17,500 for the sport. “If you’re in the upper level, you’ll be able to see everything. It’s an intimate building for one of its size.”

The upper level doesn’t have the steepness of traditional hockey balconies. Yet there’s enough elevation that fans will be able to look down on the action and still feel part of it.

“That was the intent,” Quinn said. “We traveled around and saw a lot of different arenas and we took the best components from several of them and incorporated them into our building.”

While the fans should enjoy the view, the players will have spacious areas to prepare for the games. The home team locker room is approximately 10,000 square feet, one of the largest in the NHL. It has meeting rooms, coaches’ offices, a video room, a sports medicine area complete with a hydrotherapy pool, a skate sharpening area and a players’ lounge.

It would be highly attractive for players on the expansion NHL team which businessman Bill Foley hopes to bring to Las Vegas. Where you play and practice matters to free agents.

“We had some input from Mr. Foley about the locker room and we worked with him in anticipation the NHL will award him and his team,” Quinn said. “We think the players will be very comfortable.”

As for the ice they skate on, the state-of-the-art equipment purchased to make and maintain the frozen surface should provide a good sheet. George Salami, who is the arena’s conversion manager, will be responsible for making and preserving the ice.

Quinn said it will take from four to six days to build the ice and that sometime in May, arena staff will make ice for the first time. Once the ice is down, it will remain there under a protective cover used when other events are staged.

Humidity, not heat, is an ice-maker’s mortal enemy. Quinn said between the city’s normal low humidity and the arena’s air conditioning system, deteriorating ice shouldn’t be an issue. He said once the arena knows it has an NHL team as a tenant, an ice staff will be hired to oversee the maintenance of the playing surface as well as get a couple of Zamboni drivers.

The Kings are excited to break in the building for hockey. L.A. faces the Dallas Stars on Oct. 7. The Kings will play the Colorado Avalanche the following night in their annual “Frozen Fury” game.

“It’s an honor to be the first game in the new arena,” said Kings Vice President and Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille. “We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with Las Vegas and the fans there. And for our fans, it will be exciting to have a new place for our annual visit to Vegas.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj

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