When the news came through that the Pistons would be sharing the Red Wings new home, Director of Event Operations Kevin Melsby knew his crew would be hustling all season long. That’s because hockey and basketball season occupy the same place on the calendar — meaning home ice for the Red Wings one night must be converted into the Pistons’ home court the next.
So how do they make it happen? First: If you’re thinking they melt the rink down after every game, that’s not how it works. They actually lay a platform down over the ice. That keeps the rink cold — and supports the basketball flooring, which is hauled out in four by eight sections and then fit together. That is, of course, after Melsby’s team of about 60 people removes the hockey boards, penalty boxes, and protective netting. Once the floor is down, they raise the basketball hoops and install the courtside seating.
When not in use, the floor panels for the basketball court are stored in a climate-controlled room in the back of the house to keep them in top form. Melsby says the last thing you want is “one of our star athletes going down with an injury that could be prevented.”
Transforming the ice into a court — or back again — takes about nine hours. Melsby told us before the Pistons played their home opener on Wednesday night, they’d only practiced the process a handful of times. But they’ll get plenty of chances to perfect their technique: The crew will do this multiple times a week from October through April — or “until the Red Wings are hopefully long into the playoffs.”